Florida Field Sobriety Tests

With few exceptions, every person stopped for a DUI is asked to voluntarily submit to Field Sobriety Tests or exercises. These exercises are used by law enforcement to gauge or determine whether a driver is under the influence and impaired by alcohol. Often times, standardized field sobriety tests will be the major determining factor used to make an arrest for DUI.

What most people do not realize is that these are not “tests” at all and are subjectively evaluated by poorly trained law enforcement. These exercises are often incorrectly explained, demonstrated and administered by law enforcement rendering them useless or inadmissible in court. With 15 years experience handling Central Florida DUI cases, our highly trained DUI defense attorneys scrutinize every aspect of your DUI case; the initial stop of your car, field sobriety exercises, breath test. We focus our efforts in dismissing, reducing and minimizing your exposure to DUI penalties. Tilden Law represents clients throughout Central Florida who are charged with DUI in Orlando and Orange County courts. Contact us today for a free initial case evaluation.

What are types of field sobriety exercises?

Field sobriety “tests” are standardized agility exercises used by law enforcement to evaluate the impairment of a person suspected of DUI. While these exercises are completely voluntary, law enforcement usually presents them as mandatory. Because of their inherent inaccuracy in gauging the degree of intoxication, these exercises can often be used in a defense by a skilled DUI defense attorney.

Field sobriety exercises include the following:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus HGN test – Following or tracking an object (such as tip of pen or finger) with eyes
  • Finger to Nose
  • One Leg Stand
  • Walk and Turn
  • Rhomberg Alphabet Reciting

As part of “basic training,” Florida law enforcement agencies require each officer to complete a 40-hour DUI training session. It is during this course work that these officers are instructed in administering field sobriety tests.

Field Sobriety Exercises are considered “divided attention exercises” thereby testing the ability of the individual to listen to the instructions, understand what the instructions require and finally to perform the exercises as instructed. The State Attorney and arresting officer will attempt to present evidence showing non-compliance with instructions or inability to complete these exercises to help prove DUI.

Tilden Law understands that many cases are decided almost entirely on how well the client performed the field sobriety exercises. It is important to note that the average officer will not be able to testify that any of these exercises have any degree of scientific reliability.
All of these tests have a number of factors which may negatively influence test performance and result in a false indication of intoxication:

  • The driver’s weight and age
  • A pre-existing physical injury
  • Weariness – Lack of Sleep
  • Illness – Medication
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Inner ear imbalance
  • Head injury
  • The shoes the driver is wearing (for instance, a woman wearing high heels)
  • The officer’s unique “opinion” of the test performance
  • Poor road conditions – Uneven Pavement, Heavy Traffic, Poor Lighting
  • Poor weather conditions – Rain, Wind, Temperature

Officer Training

  • Amount of training and experience
  • Unable to testify as to scientific reliability
  • Was each exercise explained and demonstrated?
  • Was age and weight of person taken into consideration?
  • Were you given credit for all the things you did correctly?

DUI cases regardless of level should never be handled by general criminal practice attorneys. It takes years of DUI practice and specialized DUI training to properly represent the rights of a client arrested for DUI. Attorney N. Fleetwood Tilden is in his 15th year of criminal DUI practice and is a former Central Florida DUI Prosecutor and has handled over 1,000 criminal DUI cases. Contact Orlando DUI defense firm Tilden Law for a free case evaluation.

If you believe that some or all of these above listed factors occurred in your case, there may be an opportunity to resolve your case with a dismissal of your DUI or reduction of your charge. Tilden Law uses its resources and experience in evaluating each client’s case in order to emphasize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. Please Contact us to schedule your free consultation.