Why the Field Sobriety Tests?
Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019 at 1:01 pm
You’ve probably watched DUI stops on television and in the movies. Maybe you’ve seen them on those reality cop shows. You’ve probably watched as the cop pulled the person over, asked the driver if he or she was drinking, and told the person to step outside of the car to perform drunk tests, which are actually called “field sobriety tests.”
Now, it’s happening to you. Perhaps you ate a big meal before you had several beers so you thought you were fine to drive. Or, perhaps you drank vodka with Red Bull and you assumed you were a wide wake, but what you really were was a “wide-awake drunk” because contrary to popular belief, caffeine, whether it’s from black coffee or energy drinks does NOT sober someone up. Only time will do that. Back to the field sobriety tests, what are they anyway?
Field Sobriety Tests Explained
The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), which is commonly referred to as the “field sobriety tests,” is a combination of three specific tests that a drunk driving suspect performs during a traffic stop to determine if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two.
The field sobriety tests were developed back in the 1970s and have been widely used by law enforcement ever since. The three tests include: 1) the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, 2) the walk-and-turn test, and 3) the one-leg stand test.
Are the SFSTs Legally Required?
A lot of drivers do not realize it, but the field sobriety tests are not legally required. This means that if you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI and the officer asks you to perform the field sobriety tests, you are not required to perform them, and there is no penalty for refusing. “What are the advantages of me refusing the field sobriety tests?”
Here’s the deal: Most of the time field sobriety tests are recorded on the officer’s dashcam and on the officer’s body cam. They are done to obtain probable cause to make a DUI arrest, so any evidence of you performing poorly on the SFSTs will be used against you in court! What do you do? Instead of taking the SFSTs, our advice is to politely refuse to take the tests since no good could possibly come out of them.
“But can’t the tests help me if I only had a little to drink?” No! These divided attention tests are extremely difficult to perform and even a sober person can fail them. Besides, you don’t have to have a Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) of .08% to get a DUI in Florida. All that matters is that the state can prove that your ability to drive safely was impaired by the introduction of alcohol or drugs.