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Field Sobriety Tests

Did you fail the field sobriety tests?

Were you recently arrested for DUI after failing the field sobriety tests? If so, you will understand your case better if you learn what is behind field sobriety testing. At Albaugh Law Firm, our St. Augustine DUI lawyers have handled thousands of cases, we have more than 70 years of combined experience, and we are ready to put our years of courtroom experience to work for you.

Under most circumstances, a police officer will observe a driver either driving erratically, or violating one of Florida's traffic laws. The officer will pull the car over and commence a traffic stop. Alternatively the stop may occur during a DUI checkpoint. If after interviewing the driver, the officer has reason to believe that he or she is under the influence of alcohol, the driver will be asked to step outside of the vehicle and perform a series of roadside field sobriety tests.

NHTSA's Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The standardized field sobriety test (SFST) was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The SFST comprises three (3) tests, which are administered roadside and for the purpose of establishing probable cause to make a DUI arrest.

The NHTSA's field sobriety tests are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): HGN refers to the involuntary jerking of the eye as it occurs when the eye is gazing to the side. With the HGN test, the officer observes the suspect's eyes as they track an object such as a pen or a flashlight.
  • Walk-and-Turn (WAT): This is a "divided attention" test where the suspect is directed to walk forward, turn on one foot and return in the same manner. The officer is looking at the suspect's balance and coordination.
  • One-Leg-Stand: The suspect is directed to stand with one foot about six inches above the ground and hold it for 30 seconds. Hopping, swaying, using one's arms for balance, or putting a foot down are all indicators of impairment.

Officers use the evidence obtained from field sobriety tests (which are usually recorded on the police officer's dash cam) to gain probable cause to make an arrest. These tests are also a precursor to the breathalyzer tests. If you perform poorly on the SFSTs, you will likely be asked to submit to a preliminary breath test.

Are there penalties for refusing?

Unlike refusing to submit to a chemical test, you will not face an automatic license suspension if you "politely refuse" to perform the field sobriety tests. Ask any DUI defense attorney, and they will tell you not to take the field sobriety tests as any evidence acquired on the dash cam will be used against you in court.

Field sobriety tests are even difficult for unimpaired individuals to pass, and they are highly subjective in nature. In courts across America, DUI defense attorneys have questioned the reliability of both standardized and non-standardized roadside tests, and many courts have thrown SFST evidence out of court.

Contact a St. Augustine DUI Attorney

Are NHTSA's tests scientific? Many lawyers, judges, and scientists believe that there are too many variables involved in roadside testing such as road, lighting and weather conditions to say that such results are foolproof.

If you were arrested for DUI after failing the field sobriety tests, contact Albaugh Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. We know exactly how to challenge field sobriety test evidence and effectively challenge all other aspects of a DUI case.

Call now for the top-notch legal representation in St. Augustine and Jacksonville!