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Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

We've all seen people on the side of the road who have been stopped by police and asked to perform a field sobriety test. The test is humiliating for the person taking it and is surprisingly difficult to perform, even for someone who has had nothing to drink.

Unfortunately, many people take these tests in Florida even though there is no law that requires them to take a field sobriety test.

A test that is designed to fail

The field sobriety test was designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a tool for law enforcement officers to use in making DUI arrests. The field sobriety test consists of three parts:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • The walk and turn
  • The one-leg stand

The horizontal gaze nystagmus is a test to see if a person's eyes jerk when moving to the side. The other tests require a person to listen carefully to instructions and perform physical movements, such as walking heel-to-toe along a straight line, and then turning and walking the opposite direction. While the physical movements seem simple, they are not when performed on an uneven road surface while traffic is whizzing by and an intimating person is giving you directions.

In some cases, the officer giving the field sobriety test is not even trained in the proper way to administer it. You may also be asked to performed tests that are virtually impossible for most people, such as reciting the alphabet backward.

The one sobriety test you are required to take in Florida is the blood, breath or urine test AFTER you have been arrested and read the implied consent notice. If you refuse to take this test, your driver's license will be suspended under our state's implied consent laws.

Before you take any blood, breath or urine test, you should seek advice from a lawyer who defends DUI cases regularly. Lawyers who practice in other areas of law would not be familiar with the defenses available in DUI cases.

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