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What is the Standardized Field Sobriety Test?

Thousands of people are arrested each year on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Florida. When law enforcement thinks that that a driver may be drunk, they have a number of investigative techniques at their disposal to determine whether a person is intoxicated and also to gather evidence of intoxication. One of the most commonly used of these techniques is a series of tests that are known collectively as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST).

There are three tests that together make up the SFST. These are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn, all of which are designed to help an officer determine whether an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit. These three tests are explained in more detail below.

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – When a person looks with his or her eyes to either side at high peripheral angles, the eyes involuntarily jerk. This motion becomes more pronounced and occurs at lesser angles when a person is intoxicated by alcohol. To perform this test, law enforcement asks a suspect to track an object across his or her field of vision while the examiner looks for signs of intoxication.
  • The One-Leg Stand – In this test, the examiner asks the suspect to stand with one foot lifted about 6 inches from the ground and count aloud by thousands. While these tasks are being performed the officer looks for signs of impairment.
  • The Walk-and-Turn – The walk-and-turn involves the officer performing the test requesting that the suspect take nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. When this is completed, the test subject is asked to turn around and return while walking in the same manner. During the test, the examiner observes the subject for certain indicators of intoxication.

It is important to understand that it is not possible to “pass” the field sobriety test. When it is performed, law enforcement is actively trying to determine whether they have probable cause to arrest you, as well as collecting evidence in the form of observations regarding your appearance and demeanor. Fortunately, there are often many arguments that a Boca Raton DUI defense lawyer can make casting doubt on the accuracy of the SFST.

Contact a Boca Raton criminal defense attorney today to schedule a free consultation

Individuals who are arrested on suspicion of DUI should retain qualified legal counsel as soon as possible. The potential penalties associated with a Florida DUI can include significant fines, the loss of your driver’s license, court-ordered community service, and even jail time. In addition, the existence of a DUI on your criminal record could result in significant personal and professional consequences as well. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of Lavalle Brown & Ronan are dedicated to helping people who have been accused of crimes move on with their lives as quickly and with as little legal consequence as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, please call our office today at 888-646-1315 or send us an email online.

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