What You Should Know About Field Sobriety Tests

DUI Field Sobriety Tests are Voluntary

If a police officer pulls you over suspecting you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test. In both Florida and Georgia, field sobriety tests are voluntary. When a police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse. In most cases, you will be far better offer declining to take a field sobriety test because these types of tests are highly subjective and very difficult to pass.

The consequences for refusing to submit to a field sobriety test are far different from refusing breath, blood or urine testing. When you refuse a police officer’s request to blow into an Intoxilyzer (breathalyzer) machine or have your blood or urine tested, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. When you refuse to submit to field sobriety testing, your license cannot be taken away for declining the officer’s request. While you will probably be arrested if the officer believes you are intoxicated, the best thing for you to do is to politely decline to take the field sobriety test.  

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a battery of three tests known as “standardized field sobriety testing.” Law enforcement officials in both Florida and Georgia use the NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests.

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test - When administering an HGN test, the police officer will observe your eyes as you are following a slowly moving object horizontally with your eyes. The officer is looking for three indicators of impairment: (1) whether you are able to smoothly follow or track an object with your eyes; (2) whether your eye involuntary jerks when your eye is at maximum deviation (as far to the right or left as possible); and (3) whether the onset of involuntary jerking occurs before your eyes have moved 45 degrees of center. If an officer observes four or more indicators between your two eyes, you can fail this test.
  • The One Leg Stand Test - When administering this test, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg for thirty seconds with the other leg off of the ground. If you sway, hop, put your foot down, or try to use your arms for balance you can fail this test.
  • The Walk and Turn Test - In this test, the officer will direct you to walk nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line and then turn on one foot and return to where you started in the same manner. There are many ways you can fail this test including, beginning the test before the officer finishes the instructions, losing your balance while listening to the officer, using your arms to balance, failing to walk heel-to-toe, stepping off the straight line, making an improper turn, taking the wrong number of steps or stopping to regain your balance.

In addition to these three tests, a law enforcement officer may administer other non-standardized field sobriety tests such as asking you to count backwards, recite the alphabet or count the number of fingers an officer has raised. It is important to remember that regardless of the type of field sobriety testing, you will be far better off if you refuse the officer’s request. These tests are designed for you to fail so that the State has something to use against you. If you refuse to take the test, the State may not have sufficient evidence to prosecute your case.

Tallahassee DUI Lawyers Can Help

If you have failed a field sobriety test in Thomasville, Valdosta, Tallahassee, Panama City or anywhere else in North Florida or South Georgia, DUI lawyers can help. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney can challenge the results of your field sobriety test on a number of different grounds, including:

  • Inadequate training or experience of the police officer
  • The officer’s failure to administer and/or grade the test correctly
  • Roadside or weather conditions present at the time of the test
  • A physical or medical condition that impacted your ability to take the test

Attorney Gus Soto is a drunk driving lawyer how knows how to contest field sobriety tests. Gus Soto is certified in NHTSA field sobriety testing. This means that he has completed the same training required of police officer before they are permitted to administer the standardized field sobriety tests.

Gus Soto knows exactly what is required under the law and he will use his experience and training to challenge your field sobriety test and any DUI charges that have been filed against you.