You may have seen videos of drivers, suspected of drunk driving and pulled over by police, asked to walk in a straight line and turn around. The videos may look funny on the news and on YouTube, but there are no fun and games if you are pulled over because you’re suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). Police officers may ask you to get out of your car to perform a Standard Field Sobriety Test. It’s imperative that you know what this test is, and what is required to pass.
What to Expect During a Standard Field Sobriety Test
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Standard Field Sobriety Test is a series of three tests administered and evaluated to determine indicators of impairment and establish probable cause for arrest. Police typically use the results of Standard Field Sobriety Tests during drunk driving cases, so it’s important to know what officers want to know. A Standard Field Sobriety Test includes:
The Walk and Turn
A driver is asked to walk in a straight line and turn around. Officers look for any signs of intoxication including:
- An inability to keep balance while listening to the instructions
- Stopping while walking to regain balance
- Beginning before the instructions are finished
- Taking an incorrect number of steps
- Not touching heel-to-toe
- Stepping off the line
- Using arms to balance
- Making an improper turn
Officers ask the driver to balance on one leg, without swaying, falling, or stumbling. During this test, officers look to see if drivers are:
- Using arms to balance
- Swaying while balancing
- Putting your foot down
- Hopping to maintain balance
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Officers ask the driver to follow the movement of an object, usually a pen, while they check for involuntary eye movements. Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball over which an individual has no control. Drinking alcohol or consuming other depressants limits the ability of the brain to control eye muscles, therefore causing the nystagmus.
Officers are looking for any sign of impairment including:
- A lack of smooth tracking while following the object
- Any uncontrolled eye movement
You Can Refuse to Perform a Standard Field Sobriety Test
You have no legal obligation to perform a Standard Field Sobriety Test. But you should be aware that refusing to take a sobriety test dramatically increases the chances that you will be arrested on DUI charges. A prosecutor can also disclose your refusal to take a field sobriety test to a jury. But your case will be more difficult for prosecutors to prove because of the lack of field sobriety evidence.
There are Ways to Fight the Results of a Standard Field Sobriety Test
Many issues could render a person unable to successfully complete one or more sections of a Standard Field Sobriety Test, including age, injury, weight, or disabilities. If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in South Florida, it is important to immediately hire an experienced DUI Defense Attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Call Broward Criminal Law today at 954-462-1005 or fill out our online form to speak with someone on our experienced DUI criminal defense team. We offer convenient, free consultations.