Florida DUI Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Administration, or NHTSA, has developed three standardized field sobriety tests that are used to determine if a driver is intoxicated: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. Although these tests are recognized by the NTHSA and law enforcement, they are not entirely accurate.  Many factors that are not related to intoxication may cause a person to fail a sobriety test.

Designed to Fail?

In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer is looking for signs of nystagmus, or an involuntary jerking of your eye, as you look from side to side. Nystagmus is a sign of intoxication, however there are over 100 medical conditions that could cause you to show signs of nystagmus.

The one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests are divided attention tests which are designed to see how well you can perform two simple tasks at once. The theory behind these tests is that the attention skills necessary to completing this test are compromised in a person who is intoxicated. While intoxication would certainly cause someone to fail these tests, other factors, including weight, age and any physical limitations, may cause a person to perform poorly.

The way the police officer administers the field sobriety tests could also cause a person to fail. If the test is not administered on dry, flat ground, your balance may be compromised. The stress you experience as a result of being stopped or the visual stimulus of the police car’s flashing lights or the traffic that is driving past could also impair your ability to concentrate and complete the tasks to the officer’s satisfaction.

If you were arrested for a DUI and failed the field sobriety tests, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your attorney will work with you to examine all of the facts of your arrest and the results of these subjective standardized tests.