DUI Field Sobriety Tests

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Law enforcement officers often give individuals who they suspect of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs what is known as a field sobriety test. The results of these tests or exercises are completely subjective in grading to determine if you are impaired, and by some, considered exercises of an abnormal nature. It is the arresting officers discretion that determines whether or not you have passed or failed the field sobriety exercises. If you have been arrested, the officer has failed you regardless of how well you performed. Be mindful of this before agreeing to perform these tests.

This page is to inform you of the various field sobriety tests, the subjectivity of those tests, and the legal provisions regarding these test, including chemical and physical tests.

The Walk and Turn.

This is the exercise that requires you to stand with one foot directly in front of the other foot while the officer tells you the instructions. If you lose balance and move your feet while listening to the instructions - one point is scored against you. If you do not then perform the exercise flawlessly - it's another point scored against you. Receiving 2 points is all that is needed to fail this test.

In this test, The Officer is looking for the following:

  • Balance: Whether or not you are lifting your arms more than 6 inches from you side.
  • Heel to Toe:  Whether or not you your feet touch heel to toe as you walk. Only 1/2 inch space is acceptable. In this test there are nine steps forward, nine steps back, which gives you 18 chances to fail.
  • Turning Around: In this step, the officer is required to demonstrate how you are suppose to turn around. Often incorrectly instructed, which leads to very few drivers doing this step correctly.

One Leg Stand.

This exercise requires the driver to stand on one leg while for 30 seconds. It is not required that the driver count to 30, only that he hold his foot up for thirty seconds.

In this test, The Officer is looking for the following:

  • Swaying: While there is no measuring criteria (such as 2 or 3 inches from side to side) the officer expects you to stand perfectly still or the officer will assess a point against you.
  • Using Arms for Balance: losing your balance only once will cause almost anyone to sway or raise their arms, which will automatically give you two points and result in a failed sobriety test.
  • Hopping: If you are unable to hop on one leg without loosing your balance, you are on your way to failing the sobriety test.
  • Puts Foot Down: If you set your foot down numerous times during this 30 second exercise, you will fail the sobriety test.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.

Also known as the "follow the pen test." While this test is currently not allowed in evidence except by specially trained law enforcement officers, it is sometimes used to establish probable cause to arrest people for DUI. The officer holds a pen or similar object in front of your face and asks you to follow it with your eyes. The idea behind this test is that it will show the law enforcement officer when your eyes start the uncontrolled shaking call nystagmus.

Chemical or Physical Test Provisions (Implied Consent Law)-s. 316.1932, F.S., s. 316.1933, F.S., s. 316.1934, F.S, s. 316.1939, F.S.

  • Refusal: Refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test is admissible as evidence in DUI criminal proceedings. Second or subsequent refusal is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • Driver License Suspension Periods: First refusal, suspended for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals, suspended for 18 months.
  • Commercial Driver License Disqualification Periods: First refusal in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified permanently. No hardship reinstatement permitted.
  • Forceful Withdrawal of Blood: If necessary, blood may be withdrawn in DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death by authorized medical personnel with the use of reasonable force by the arresting officer, even if the driver refuses.
  • Unconscious: Any person who is incapable of refusal by reason of unconsciousness or other mental or physical condition shall be deemed not to have withdrawn his consent to such test. A blood test may be administered whether or not such person is told that his failure to submit to such a blood test will result in the suspension of his privilege to operate a motor vehicle.
  • Portable Alcohol Breath Testing Devices: Authorized by s.322.2616, F.S., for persons under the age of 21. Reading is admissible as evidence in any administrative hearing conducted under s. 322.2616, F.S.

At Cohen Law, P.A., we understand the uncertainty you may experience when charged with a DUI crime, the severity of penalties if convicted, and the impact a conviction may have on your life. We defend those charged with a DUI crime while aggressively protecting your legal rights.

Over the years we have successfully provided professional DUI defense legal services for countless Lakeland, Florida and Polk County area residents. Do not leave your future and reputation to chance. Make sure your legal rights are protected and you voice is heard.

Protect your rights by seeking the legal advice and representation of an experienced Lakeland DUI Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer.

Contact Lee A. Cohen at 863.646.7636 in the Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Polk County, and Central Florida Area.

COHEN LAW, P.A.

5430 Strickland Avenue,
Lakeland, FL 33812

Phone: 863.646.7636
Fax: 863.648.0983



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Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Polk County, and Cetnral Florida Attorney -Lawyer
Lee Adam Cohen
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Lakeland Criminal Defense Attorney - Lawyer, Providing Professional Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Defense legal services for the Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Polk County, and Central Florida communities.

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