Florida Field Sobriety Test
Florida field sobriety tests are designed to determine whether a driver is impaired. Field sobriety exercises include the following:
HGN: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (or HGN) test requires a driver to follow an object with his or her eyes. The object could be a pen, the tip of a penlight or the officer’s finger. The more alcohol someone drinks, the less able they are to control their eye muscles and the more likely their eyes will jerk. However, the test isn’t perfect as medical issues unrelated to alcohol can cause jerking in the eyes.
One Leg Stand: In the one leg stand exercise the officer instructs driver to raise either leg approximately six inches off the ground with that foot pointed out. The arms are supposed to say at the driver’s sides. The driver is to count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three” while looking at the raised foot until told to stop by the officer. The officer looks to see if the driver sways, uses his arms for balance, or put his foot down. However, some people have trouble with the one leg stand because of poor instructions, language barriers, tiredness, bad lighting, flashing lights, weather, nervousness, poor coordination, airbag dust, or injuries.
Walk and Turn: In the Walk and Turn exercise, the driver must take nine steps heel to toe on a line, turn around, and take nine steps returning from the point where the test began. The officer must conduct the test on a hard, level, and non-slippery surface. The officer looks to see if the driver loses his balance, takes the wrong number of steps, stops walking, does not touch heal to toe, steps off the line, or turns incorrectly. Like the one-leg stand, some people have trouble with the walk and turn because of poor instructions, language barriers, tiredness, bad lighting, flashing lights, weather, nervousness, poor coordination, airbag dust, or injuries.
Florida Law does not require that a driver perform field sobriety exercises. However, when deciding whether or not to arrest a driver for DUI, a law enforcement officer may take into consideration the fact that a driver refuses to perform the exercises. Typically, when a driver refuses to perform field sobriety exercises, the officer arrests the driver for DUI.
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