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What happens during a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2021 | Drunk Driving

If Florida law enforcement officer pulls you over for suspected drunk driving, you may be asked to do a few things. One of these includes stepping outside of your vehicle and submitting to field sobriety tests. These tests are comprised of various tasks designed to test a driver’s cognitive abilities and physical reactions. Failing a sobriety task could indicate a driver is impaired.

It may be in your interests to know what to expect from a sobriety test in the event law enforcement ever stops you for suspected impaired driving. If asked to submit to a sobriety test, you may want to know what these tests include and what happens if you don’t pass. Knowing what to expect can help you identify problems with your interactions with law enforcement, including possible violations of your rights.

Three types of tests

There are three standard field sobriety tests that law enforcement may perform in the field. They test a driver’s balance, coordination, reactions and other things that may allow an officer to know if he or she should perform additional testing in the form of a chemical test. Officers receive training on how to perform these tests in order to ensure they are fair and accurate. The three standard field sobriety tests include:

  • Walk-and-turn test – During this test, a driver will take nine steps forward walking heel to toe, then turn around and return to the starting point. This test looks at balance and ability to follow instructions.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – During this test, an officer will ask a driver to follow an object with his or her eyes, such as a pen or flashlight. This allows the officer to look for a jerking of the eyeballs, which is something that can indicate intoxication.
  • One-leg stand test – During this test, an officer will ask a driver to balance on one leg for about 30 seconds. This tests a driver’s balance, instruction-following capabilities and swaying.

It can be frightening to find yourself pulled over for suspected drunk driving. If asked to submit to sobriety tests, you will find it beneficial to know what to expect and how you can protect yourself. If charged with drunk driving, you have the right to present a strong defense, fighting to protect your future interests and possibly avoid a conviction.