Our readers in Florida may know that drunk driving arrests are some of the most common interactions between citizens and law enforcement officials. Each year thousands of people are arrested in Florida and charged with DUI. However, there are many steps involved in each of these DUI cases, and one of the main steps is the part of the investigation when a law enforcement officer is conducting field sobriety tests.
For anyone who is facing DUI charges, it is important to know the basic facts about field sobriety tests. For starters, there are three common field sobriety tests that are conducted during the investigation in a DUI stop: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test and the walk-and-turn test.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test would probably be more commonly remembered by most people as the “follow the tip of my pen with your eyes” test. This is the test in which the law enforcement officer will move a pen back and forth in a suspect’s field of vision, asking the suspect not to move his head — only his eyes — while following the tip of the pen. In this test, the officer is looking for involuntary jerking movements in the suspect’s eyes, which can be an indicator of intoxication.
The walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test are pretty easy to remember. In the walk-and-turn test, the suspect is asked to walk a straight line, heel to toe, and then turn and come back on that same line. In the one-leg stand test, the suspect is asked to stand still with one leg lifted off of the ground for a period of time. The failure to follow instructions in either of these tests, as well as signs of imbalance, can be signs of intoxication.
It is important to understand the basics of field sobriety tests, so you can call the results of one into question if you believe it was improperly or unlawfully administered. Doing so can be an essential part of one’s DUI defense.