Field Sobriety Tests

Law enforcement officers throughout the state are constantly on the lookout for drivers exhibiting signs of intoxication. An officer must have reasonable cause to stop a driver for suspicion of drunk driving, which can include weaving between lanes, slowing down and then speeding up, driving well below or above the speed limit, failure to follow traffic signs and signals or driving without headlights on. After pulling over the vehicle, the officer will ask the driver to submit to testing to determine whether they are driving under the influence.

Common Types Of Field Sobriety Tests

One way the officer can judge a driver's level of intoxication is through the field sobriety test. If you are stopped for a suspected DUI, the officer may ask you to submit to one or all of the three main types of field sobriety tests. During the tests the officer will observe you to help determine whether you are drunk and in violation of Florida's DUI laws. These tests are not a method of measuring your BAC, but rather your ability to perform tests that are presumably simple for a sober driver to pass.

One-Leg Stand
The one-leg stand tests your ability to divide your attention. The officer will instruct you to stand with one of your feet approximately six inches off the ground and then to count aloud in thousands until you are instructed to stop and place your foot back on the ground. The officer will observe you to see if you exhibit four main signs of intoxication: you swayed while balancing, you had to use your arms to balance, you hopped in order to maintain balance or you put your foot down before you were told to do so.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
HGN refers to the way in which the eyes naturally and involuntary jerk when they are rotated at high peripheral angles. When you are intoxicated, however, nystagmus is more exaggerated and can happen when your eyes rotate at lesser angles. Additionally, your eyes will also have trouble smoothly tracking an object moving in front of you. The officer will assess your level of intoxication with the HGN test by asking you to keep your head still and follow, using only your eyes, an object that is moving horizontally in front of you, such as a pen or small flashlight. While conducting the test the officer will observe your eyes for indicators of impairment, which include one or both of your eyes being unable to follow the object smoothly as it moves, if your eyes are distinctly jerking at maximum deviation or if your eyes jerk when the angle of onset is within 45 degrees of center.

Much like the one-leg stand, the walk and turn tests your ability to divide your attention. The officer will instruct you to take nine heel-to-toe steps on a straight line, turn on one foot and then return to the starting point in the same way. The officer will evaluate your level of intoxication by evaluating you for eight indicators of impairment: you are unable to balance while receiving instructions, you begin before the officer has finished giving you the instructions, you step off the line, you have to stop walking to regain your balance, you use your arms to balance, you do not walk heel-to-toe, you do not turn as instructed or you take too many steps.

Fight The Evidence And Charges

If you were charged with a DUI after failing a field sobriety test, it is important to retain a powerful Ocala criminal defense lawyer who can help you challenge the allegations. At Dunham & Ingram, LLC, our team is dedicated to providing our clients with the aggressive and knowledgeable representation needed to fight field sobriety test evidence, including readings obtained on a Breathalyzer or other testing unit. We understand that there are many different factors that can impact your test results, and we can move to have the evidence ruled inadmissible in court if your field sobriety test results were negatively affected by such factors as:

  • The officer's instructions were unclear.
  • You could not hear the officer's instructions because of passing traffic.
  • You were distracted by the noise and lights of passing traffic.
  • The weather was poor.

  • The ground was slippery or covered with gravel or sand.
  • You were wearing unstable footwear.
  • You are overweight or have a physical disability.
  • You have a pre-existing medical condition that impacted your performance.
  • You were embarrassed and anxious about being pulled over.
  • You are unable to speak or understand English.

Our firm can build a detailed and compelling defense to present to the court if you believe you were wrongfully charged with drunk driving after a field sobriety test. We will investigate the circumstances and all evidence brought against you to find the flaws in the prosecution's case and ensure your rights are protected. Our firm knows that conviction for a DUI could have significant implications upon your personal freedom, career and other opportunities.

Contact our attorneys today by calling 352-433-1107 or by emailing us your contact information.