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What happens during a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2022 | Dui

Movies and TV tend to do an excellent job of entertaining but fall short when it is time to portray real life. The typical field sobriety test on TV tends to look much different from what you may encounter after a night out with your friends.

When you see flashing lights on your way home, you may think of someone staggering along the side of the road while trying to walk in a straight line. While the walk-and-turn test is one that officers tend to use, your experience will likely be very different.

Here’s what you should know about taking a field sobriety test.

Walk-and-turn test

The walk-and-turn test is the one that is typically most familiar since it gets more laughs in a movie. To perform the test, the officer will ask you to walk a number of steps heel-to-toe, turn and walk the same number of steps back. While you are completing the task, the officer will look for signs of intoxication, such as:

  • Inability to balance
  • Not following directions
  • Using arms to balance

One of the challenges with this test is that it can be challenging for both drunk and sober people since it requires a certain amount of balance.

One-leg stand test

Similar to the walk-and-turn test, this test also requires a certain amount of balance to perform it properly. The officer will ask you to stand and lift one leg about six inches from the ground and count slowly until the officer asks you to stop.

Also, like the walk-and-turn test, the officer will be looking for signs like inability to balance or not following directions as indications that you had too much to drink.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test does not count on balance. Instead, it looks for an involuntary jerking of the eye that tends to go with high blood-alcohol content. Rather than asking you to perform a series of tasks, the officer will ask you to follow an object like a pen or flashlight with your eyes.

Do I have to do it?

Keep in mind that there is not a specific rule requiring you to submit to a field sobriety test in Florida. However, implied consent laws may require that you take a breathalyzer test.

Facing drunk driving charges can seriously impact your life and your future. Talking to a skilled professional early in the process is important.