Why do police officers execute field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2017 | Drunk Driving, Firm News |

The word ‘test’ can send chills down the spine of any Florida resident who has ever tensed up before being subjected to a scored evaluation. While most of the tests that people must face are academic or physical in nature, there is one set of tests that no person ever wants to have to complete: field sobriety tests. These tests are administered when a law enforcement official suspects that a driver is intoxicated, oftentimes when they have made a traffic stop to determine if their suspicions are correct.

Field sobriety tests evaluate drivers’ coordination and physical condition. Although variations may exist regarding the style of tests that different police departments use, there are three main evaluations that law enforcement officials utilize in the field: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-leg stand.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is administered by an officer when they ask a driver to focus their attention to the side. If the driver’s eyes exhibit erratic movement, known as nystagmus, that the driver cannot control, then there may be evidence of intoxication in the driver.

The walk and turn test is a straightforward evaluation of a driver’s capacity to move in a straight line. A driver is asked to walk heel-to-toe, turn, and return to their starting point. If they stumble, weave, or otherwise cannot control their movement, then it is possible the results of the test will serve as evidence of intoxication.

Finally, the one-leg stand is an evaluation of a driver’s balance, and the failure of a driver to hold themselves up on one foot can be used as proof of driving while intoxicated. However, it is important for readers to know that not every field sobriety test is administered properly and will not yield accurate results. Individuals facing drunk driving charges may wish to have the circumstances of their arrests evaluated by criminal defenses and DUI defense lawyers.

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