Field Sobriety Tests
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When stopped under suspicion for driving under the influence (DUI), motorists may be asked to perform various roadside evaluations known as field sobriety tests. These tests are used by law enforcement officers as a means to further monitor motorists for signs of impairment and collect evidence that can be used against them to make an arrest and prosecute them in a court of law.
In Florida and most states, field sobriety tests are not mandatory. You have the right to refuse these tests – and you should. They are not intended to help drivers, and instead only succeed in providing police with more time and evidence that can be used to justify an arrest and potentially a conviction. Because field sobriety tests are not objective indicators of impairment, they make for weak evidence in a DUI case, and it is generally advised that DUI suspects avoid them. As our Daytona Beach DUI attorneys know, however, many drivers do end up taking them.
If you or someone you love has recently been arrested for DUI and took field sobriety tests, it is important to remember that your case is not shut and closed – you still have options. As former Florida prosecutors, our criminal defense attorneys know how these tests are used during stops and in court, and they have the insight to effectively challenge them and focus on strategies that help clients pursue the best possible resolution.
Why Field Sobriety Tests Fall Short
Although law enforcement agencies across Florida and the U.S. utilize field sobriety tests during DUI stops, they are far from perfect. Even the following three standardized field sobriety tests have shortcomings:
- Walk and turn test
- One leg stand test
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus
Although these tests have been developed and standardized by law enforcement officials, they are not objective indicators of a person’s impairment. Poor performance on a field sobriety test may be used against you, but there are many elements of these tests that can result in misleading results. For example, all of the following can cause a person to perform poorly on roadside sobriety tests:
- Physical conditions or disability
- Road conditions, such as uneven roadways
- Environmental factors and weather
- Pressure from law enforcement
Ultimately, field sobriety tests are slanted in favor of the government. This is because they benefit law enforcement and prosecutors, and cannot benefit suspects, even if they perform well. Because there are many factors that can result in poor performance, they also do not carry as much weight as other forms of evidence, such as physical signs of impairment or chemical test results. By working to address any issues involving field sobriety tests, our attorneys can move on to other important elements in a DUI case, such as challenging probable cause and law enforcement protocol, the government’s narrative about what happened during an arrest, and whether drivers were in violation of the law.
Call Today for a FREE DUI Consultation
Being charged for DUI is not an easy experience, and it is an allegation that comes with real short- and long-term consequences, including hefty fines and fees, probation, license suspension, and possible terms of imprisonment. To put yourself in position to secure the most favorable result possible, it is in your best interest to work with defense attorneys who have the experience and insight to handle all aspects of your case, from field sobriety tests and chemical test results to administrative hearings involving your driver’s license. That is precisely what we do at Hager & Schwartz, P.A.
Contact us to request a FREE consultation.