Are Field Sobriety Tests Mandatory in Florida?
You may be aware that Florida has what is called an “implied consent” law. What this means is that an individual, as part of his or her driving privileges, automatically gives permission to have their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured by an officer if they are suspected of driving under the influence. Refusal to submit to testing may result in penalties including loss of driver’s license and time in jail.
However, implied consent laws do not prevent a person from refusing to take a field sobriety test. An officer cannot force a person, even if they have a suspicion that a driver is under the influence, to take these tests. And because they are so subjective, it is in a driver’s best interests not to submit.
Field Sobriety Tests are Designed to Make People Fail
The standard Field Sobriety Tests include:
- Walk-and-Turn: The driver is asked to walk in a straight line and turn around. Officers look for signs of intoxication including stumbling, swaying, or an inability to stay in line.
- One-Leg Stand: The driver is asked to balance on one leg, again without swaying or stumbling.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The officer asks the driver to follow the movement of an object about one foot frim the driver’s face and checks for an involuntary jerking or bouncing motion of the eye, called a nystagmus. The approximate angle at which the eye begins to jerk indicates the possible level of intoxication.
These tests have zero scientific basis and are subject only to an officer’s judgment, which is often biased because they want to gather evidence that can lead to a DUI conviction. In fact, research shows that officers are overwhelmingly likely to overestimate a person’s BAC based on the results of these tests.
There are a number of reasons why an individual who has not been drinking might fail these tests, including illness or uneven pavement. Even a sober person can be expected to have some difficulty balancing on one leg! That is why we advise Florida drivers to refuse these tests, and to call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. as soon as possible after an arrest.
35+ Years Experience Representing Florida DUI Victims
If you have been arrested for DUI, there is no time to waste in contacting a Miami DUI lawyer at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. As former Florida state prosecutors, we know what it takes to secure winning results in DUI cases. We are prepared to investigate your case to determine which course of action will best serve your needs. In many cases, we are able to challenge evidence from field sobriety tests or chemical tests, which can possibly result in a reduction or elimination of a DUI charge. Because each case is different, we encourage you to call our office to learn more about how we can help.
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