Florida is home of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, one of the biggest parties during the college football season. In addition to events such as this, Florida sees significant tourist activity all year long. That being the case, one can assume that law enforcement is constantly on the lookout for individuals that have been drinking and then get behind the wheel. If you have ever or are going to attend the “Cocktail Party” or plan on vacationing in Florida, you need to know your rights when it comes to Florida field sobriety tests.
What are Field Sobriety Tests?
Officers will issue three basic field sobriety tests during a DUI stop. They are:
- HGN Testing
- Walk and Turn
- One Leg Stand
HGN, or horizontal gaze nystagmus, is a test that measures the involuntary action of the eye as it moves from side to side. The test is performed by the officer moving an object from side to side while asking the individual to follow the object. The officer measures the visual “jerking” of the individual compared to standards for sober individuals.
Walk and Turn
In this test, the individual must walk heel-to-toe for nine steps on a straight line. Then, he or she must turn on one foot and repeat the process to the original starting point. Falling off balance, not staying on the line, or failing to walk in the prescribed manner are indices of being intoxicated, at least according to the test.
One Leg Stand
This test requires the individual to stand on one foot while holding the other foot six inches off the ground (while counting one one thousand, two one thousand, etc…). The individual cannot put his or her foot down until the officer tells him or her to (this is generally a 30-second test). The officer looks for loss of balance, swaying, or using arms to maintain balance.
Try these tests while you are sober and you will see how difficult they are for anyone to pass, not just someone that has been drinking. According to a study conducted by Stuster & Burns in 1998, 88 percent of HGN, 79 percent of Walk and Turn, and 83 percent of One Leg Stand testers were actually impaired. This means in the best-case scenario for law enforcement, 12 percent of the people failing were not actually intoxicated and as many as 21 percent were sober.
Hiring a DUI Attorney in Florida
If you have been arrested and charged for DUI in Florida, you will need to contact a local DUI attorney, especially if you took and failed field sobriety tests. A good attorney can evaluate your tests and fight the results in court. If you would like your case evaluated free and find a local DUI attorney, fill out the Free DUI Review form on the right of this page.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.