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
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
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!