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DUI » DUI Testing » Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Test Information

When the police suspect an individual has been driving under the influence, they will ask him / her to perform a series of standard tests, also called field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests help police officers determine a driver’s level of intoxication by challenging his / her physical and mental coordination and ability to follow instructions. They are also used to establish a probable cause of arrest.

The three standardized field sobriety tests used by Tampa police officers are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) -HGN refers to the involuntary jerking of the eyeball. When a person is intoxicated, it is believed that his/her eyes are more likely to twitch. During the HGN test, the police officer will hold an object in front of the driver and ask him/her to follow the object with his/her eyes. If the driver cannot follow the object, or if his/her eyes start twitching, then it is taken as a sign of intoxication. (However, it is important to note that Nystagmus is medical and physiological condition that is common in a large amount of people, even when they are sober)
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) -The driver stands on one foot and raises the other leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud. The driver is expected to stand on one foot without raising his/her arms, losing balance, wobbling, hopping around, or putting the lifted leg down.
  • Walk and Turn (WAT) -The driver takes nine steps in a straight line touching heel to toe, stops, and then repeats the action in the other direction

In addition to these DUI tests, police officers may require drivers to perform additional non-standardized field sobriety tests, including the finger to nose test, reciting the alphabet, counting backwards and balancing tests. If you were arrested after performing a field sobriety test, it is important to contact an experienced attorney immediately. Most police officers have already decided to arrest you at this point, and are now just looking for additional evidence to use against you in court. Many attorneys believe field sobriety tests are inaccurate, subjective, and designed for failure. There are many factors that can cause people to appear intoxicated, such as nervousness, age, lack of natural coordination, lack of proper instruction, weather, fatigue, illness, physical problems, disabilities, injuries, car headlights, weight, footwear, intimidation, and traffic distractions.

Investigating a Case After a "Failed" Field Sobriety Test

If you have been arrested and charged for DUI, and you performed one or more field sobriety test, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer to investigate your case and represent you in court. At Thomas & Paulk, we use our expertise to fight the charges brought against our clients and protect their rights. We question the arresting officer’s ability to properly conduct a field sobriety test, and make sure the officer did not violate our clients’ rights. In addition, we are dedicated to providing each client with personalized attention, viable options and aggressive defense. We don’t stop working until we obtain a favorable result and see that justice has been served. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel, contact our offices for your free consultation at (813) 321-7323!

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