If the police suspect a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they have the right to stop the driver and ask him/her to perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. In addition to these tests, the police may also test the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) with either a Breathalyzer machine, or by means of a blood or urine test. In Florida, it is illegal to drive a car with a BAC level higher than 0.08%. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAC level over 0.02%. Any driver with a BAC level that exceeds these legal limits will be arrested and charged with DUI.
Police use field sobriety tests to determine a driver’s level of intoxication by evaluating his/her coordination, cognitive abilities, and capacity to follow instructions. In Florida, there are three main field sobriety tests that are commonly used by law enforcement officials:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: The driver must follow an object with his/her eyes. If the eye cannot follow the object, or if the eye twitches, then it is a sign of intoxication. (It should be noted that Nystagmus is a common medical and physiological condition that can cause the eye to twitch even if the person is sober)
- The Walk and Turn Test: The driver takes nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line and then turns and repeats the action in the opposite direction. Failure to walk in a straight line is considered a sign of intoxication.
- The One-Leg Test: The driver stands on one foot and lifts the other leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud. If he/she loses balance, hops around, wobbles, or falls, it is a sign of intoxication.
- The Finger to Nose Test: The driver is required to bring the tip of the index finger up to touch the tip of the nose while his/her eyes are closed and his/her head is tilted slightly back. The DUI suspect will attempt this six times, three with each hand. The officer will instruct the subject as to which hand to use on each attempt.
It is important to note that almost all field sobriety tests are subjective, inaccurate, and designed for failure. Even people that haven’t had a sip of alcohol may not be able to pass these tests. In fact, because these tests are inaccurate and subjective, some of the tests, like the HGN test, are inadmissible in most Florida courts. There are a number of factors that could cause a person to perform poorly on a field sobriety test, such as:
- Pre-existing disabilities
- Pre-existing physical limitations
- Road conditions
- Traffic headlights
- Physical ability
- Natural lack of coordination
- Natural lack of balance
Contact Ft. Pierce DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested on DUI charges after performing one or more field sobriety tests, you must contact an experienced Ft. Pierce DUI attorney immediately. Your performance on these tests will provide law enforcement officers with the probable cause they need to arrest you on DUI charges. Furthermore, the result of your tests will most likely be used as evidence against you in court.
An experienced and aggressive DUI attorney like Jerry Roden can fight on your behalf and protect your rights. Mr. Roden devotes his entire practice to Florida DUI law, and utilizes cutting-edge methods and negotiation tactics in an attempt to help you achieve successful results in court. Mr. Roden personally conducts his own investigation into your case, and makes sure the police conducted the tests fairly, accurately, and legitimately. Furthermore, each of Mr. Roden’s clients receives viable options, professional guidance, aggressive representation, and compassionate care.
If you are in need of a Ft. Pierce, Treasure Coast or Space Coast DUI defense attorney, contact Jerry Roden today! Mr. Roden also represents clients in St. Lucie County, Martin County, Indian River County and Brevard County.