Field Sobriety Tests

Information From a Sarasota and Bradenton Attorney

If you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving (DUI), you will probably be asked to take a field sobriety test (FST). If you are like most people, you will want to comply with the officer in the hope that he or she will let you go with a warning. This can be a mistake.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety test describes several types of tests that an officer can administer after a traffic stop. The purpose of these tests is to see if there is probable cause to arrest you and thereafter request a breath test to determine your breath alcohol content. The common FSTs are:

  • One-legged stand
  • Walk and turn
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

These tests were designed based on research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the intention of standardizing police actions during traffic stops. However, because police officers are human beings, relying on an FST as evidence of impairment can be misleading.

A Field Sobriety Test Is Not Mandatory

You are not required to take an FST, and there are numerous reasons to politely decline. Even if you are entirely sober, anxiety can make you perform badly while doing the exercises. And if you have had only a little to drink, you may still fail the test. What you had to eat, your medications and your physical condition can influence your performance on the test. There are many causes of inaccurate field sobriety tests.

The downside of refusing the test is that the police officer can use your refusal against you at your trial. However, the state of Florida gives you the right to refuse to take an FST. Refusing is not a sign of guilt.

How We Help if You Are Charged After Taking an FST

If you do take an FST and are charged with DUI, our lawyers will review how the test was conducted. We will determine whether the officer had the correct training to administer the test, and review your history to learn whether there were medical issues that could influence the outcome. If the officer taped you while you performed the tests, we will review the video.

Contact attorney Michael Perry online or call 941-365-4000 to schedule your free initial consultation with a Sarasota and Bradenton lawyer about field sobriety tests.