Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

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Once a person is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), law enforcement officials will typically ask that individual to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs). If the officer believes that you have failed one or all of these tests, this will provide law enforcement with probable cause to make a DUI arrest.

It would be easy to presume that failing an FST means that you are guilty. However, that is not always the case. The arresting officer may incorrectly administer, demonstrate, or explain the tests, which means that the results are inadmissible in court.

With more than two decades of experience, Kernan & Austin, LLC understands the weaknesses and inaccuracies of field sobriety tests. Our Brevard County criminal defense lawyers can investigate your arrest, collect and analyze evidence, and develop an effective defense strategy in order to obtain the most favorable outcome possible.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

In Florida, there are three standardized FSTs: the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. These tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is also responsible for providing training for police officers who administer these tests.

  • The following is a breakdown of each standardized FST:
  • The one-leg stand – In this test, you must stand with one foot lifted about six inches off the ground. You will then count aloud until instructed to stop. The police officer will look for any swaying, hopping, putting your foot down, or using your arms to balance.
  • Walk and turn – In this test, you will be required to take nine heel-to-toe steps, stop, turn, and then take nine more heel-to-toe steps in the opposite direction. The officer will watch to see if you follow instructions and remain balanced.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus – In this test, you must keep your head steady and use your eyes to follow the police officer’s movement of an object 12 to 15 inches in front of your nose. The police officer will watch out for any delayed or jerked eye movements, as well as the inability to keep your head steady.

It is imperative to understand that FSTs can be inaccurate. Many things can cause an individual to fail a test, aside from being intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Factors that may affect the test results include poor coordination, physical injury, health conditions, weather conditions, inadequate lighting, uneven surface, or poor instruction from the police officer.

Ready to Protect Your Rights & Future Today!

Our Brevard County criminal defense attorneys have the experience and resources to either obtain a not-guilty verdict, get your entire case dismissed, or significantly reduce your charges. Time is of the essence when it comes to DUI cases, so it is wise to reach out to our skilled legal team to get your life back to normal.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation today.

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