Fort Lauderdale, FL- If a Fort Lauderdale police officer pulls you over and suspects you of being intoxicated, they are going to ask you to participate to participate in field sobriety tests. The tests allow and officer to observe a motorist and try to determine if they are drunk or on drugs. But many are skeptical about field sobriety tests, so our team of DUI lawyers in Florida would like to address the reliability of these tests.
The first stage of field sobriety testing is a physical evaluation and usually begins with an officer examining your eyes. They are looking to see if your eyes are bloodshot, or your pupils are dilated constricted, so they have enough probable cause to detain you and continue their investigation. An officer will also be looking for the odor of alcohol and listening for slurred speech.
Below we will discuss some of the most common field sobriety tests utilized by law enforcement agencies in Florida as described by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus- The horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary motion of the eye which causes an intoxicated person’s eye to twitch or jerk when they look to each side or rotate their eyes at high peripheral angles. Officers also look to see if a detainee is capable of following an object with their eyes. The NHTSA says that the horizontal gaze nystagmus is 88 percent accurate.
The next two tests are divided attention tests, the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Test. These tests are easy to a sober person but can be very difficult to someone who is impaired. These tests require participants to carry out a physical activity while listening to an officer’s directions. The whole point is to divide a person’s attention.
For the Walk and Turn, the DUI suspect is asked to take nine steps, heel to toe, then turn on one foot and repeat the steps over again. Officers are looking for several signs of impairment such as an inability to maintain balance, whether they need help maintaining balance and can they walk a straight line. For the One Leg Test, a DUI suspect is asked to stand on one leg and recite the alphabet or count aloud. Keeping their balance while engaging in a cognitive test. According to the NHTSA, the One Leg Stand has 83 percent accuracy rate and the Walk, and Turn test has a 79 percent accuracy rate.
Lastly, if you perform poorly on those tests, you will be asked to submit to a breathalyzer, chemical test or urine test. You can refuse these tests, but you could face charges for refusal which has a different set of consequences.
If you are charged with a DUI in Fort Lauderdale, we urge you to contact the law offices Leader & Leader and set up a case evaluation. Criminal defense attorney Michael Leader will evaluate your case and help you decide the defense strategy that will give you the best chance to avoid conviction. You can reach attorney Michael Leader and make an appointment by calling 954-523-2020.