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DUI & Field Sobriety Tests
Criminal Law in Orlando and throughout Central Florida
When people are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, they are typically asked to perform what is called a field sobriety test (FST). These tests were developed by police agencies to help officers determine if motorists they have pulled over are, indeed, driving under the influence. Based on your performance of these tests, the officer will determine if you are intoxicated and need to be brought in for further testing such as a blood test or breathalyzer test.
A motorist’s performance on an FST may provide the legal justification or probable cause the police need to arrest a person for driving while under the influence. These tests may also be used in court to prove your guilt.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
One of the very first FST that will be performed is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. This relates to the relationship between drinking alcohol and the onset of nystagmus in the eye. Nystagmus is a natural phenomenon of involuntary jerking of the eye. Alcohol may exaggerate or magnify the involuntary jerking of the eye. Trained police officers will conduct this test in the following manner:
- Find out if motorist wears contact lenses
- Have the motorist remove eyeglasses
- Tell the motorist his eyes will be checked, to keep his head still, and follow the stimulus with his eyes only
- Police officer will hold an object (usually a pen) approximately 12 inches from the driver’s nose and slight above his eyes
- The officer will check the suspect’s eyes for the ability to track the stimulus
- The officer will check the size of the pupils
The officer will check for three things during the HGN to determine if you are intoxicated:
- The eye cannot follow an object smoothly
- Nystagmus is distinct when the eye is at maximum deviation
- The angle of onset of nystagmus is prior to 45 degrees
If the police officer notes four or more clues for both eyes, it is highly likely that the drivers blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than .10.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, it is imperative to hire an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer immediately. Only an experienced DUI attorney can determine whether the FST was conducted in the proper manner.
One Leg Stand Test
Another common FST that police officers ask motorists to perform is the infamous one leg stand test. In this test, the officer will ask the driver to raise one leg and keep it up for thirty seconds. A police officer will look for the following to help him determine whether or not you are intoxicated:
- The suspect sways back and forth while attempting to balance
- The suspect uses arms for balance
- The suspect hops around
- The suspect puts his foot on the ground more than once during the thirty seconds
Walk and Turn Test
A third test that police officers perform is the Walk and Turn Test, which is done so the officer can see if the motorist can follow directions and stay properly balanced. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the officer will look for the following to determine if the suspect is under the influence:
- Suspect cannot keep balance or follow instructions
- Suspect begins before instructions are finished
- Suspect stops while walking
- Suspect does not walk heel to toe
- Suspect steps off line
- Suspect uses arms to balance
- Suspect takes an improper turn
If two or more of those indicators are noted by the officer, it is highly likely that the motorist is intoxicated.
Two other tests that officers may perform to determine if a driver is under the influence are the Ram Berg alphabet test and the finger-to-nose test.
To learn more, please see Challenging a Orlando DUI.
If you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, you do have rights. The Orlando, Florida dui arrest attorneys at the Umansky Law Firm in Orlando, Florida have the experience and knowledge to help you fight your DUI charge. Please contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation. Please contact our DUI Defense Law Firm by calling 407.228.3970 today.