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What are roadside sobriety tests?

Drivers in Florida may have seen DUI tests being executed while driving down their local roads: individuals walking in lines, standing on one foot or looking at the flashlights of law enforcement officials. These seemingly random acts are a series of sobriety tests that can be used to attempt to determine when drivers are intoxicated. They are often called roadside or field sobriety tests and they are generally executed as three distinct assessments.

The first assessment is usually the walk and turn test. In this assessment, a person is asked to walk in a straight line, lining the toe of one foot up with the heel of the foot that is placed in front of it. After traveling a certain distance the person is asked to stop, turn and return to the starting point in the same manner. Imbalance and other signs of difficultly may be used by law enforcement officials as evidence of intoxication.

Another test that may be used in a roadside assessment is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. In this test, a person is asked to follow a moving point, such as a flashlight or fingertip. If the eyes move in an erratic way, it is possible that the person being tested has alcohol in their system.

The final test that may be administered is the single leg stand. This test simply asks a person to stand on one foot and not lose their balance. If a person cannot do this without leaning, waving their arms or undertaking other motions, then they may be assessed to have impaired balance.

Roadside sobriety tests are one type of tool that may be used in an evaluation for drunk driving. However, the results of these tests may be challenged. Individuals facing drunk driving charges due to field sobriety test outcomes may wish to discuss their cases with drunk driving defense lawyers.

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