For the prosecution, the crucial evidence is gathered at the time of your DUI arrest. It’s contained in police reports and often a dashboard video. The officers record their observations of your driving behavior and your physical demeanor during the stop. In addition, the officers typically include the results of any Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests that you consented to take. Our DUI representatives aggressively challenge the subjective assessments of law enforcement officers, as well as the reliability of any physical or chemical tests they administer. To learn more about your rights and how to fight back against the results of a breathalyzer or similar tool, you should work with an Inverness sobriety tests lawyer.
How do Officers Perform Field Sobriety Tests?
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is intended to evaluate the level of a person’s impairment by alcohol or drugs. The Florida Basic Recruit Training Program for Law Enforcement claims that the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test is 77 percent accurate, walk-and-turn is 68 percent accurate, and the one-leg stand is 65 percent accurate.
When considering the devastating consequences to the defendant, these figures highlight the low reliability of the tests as proof of drunk driving. In addition, these numbers are based on lab studies in which researchers conduct the tests by the book and under ideal conditions, which is rarely the situation during a DUI stop. However, even if you accept the state’s figures, the tests are dead wrong one out of four times — at best.
The tests work as follows:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus — HGN is the involuntary jerking of your eye that naturally occurs as you shift your gaze from side to side. A person impaired by alcohol or drugs often has an exaggerated HGN, with onset beginning at a closer angle to the center. To conduct the HGN test, the law enforcement officer slowly moves a flashlight horizontally across your field of vision and asks you to follow it with your eyes. Head trauma, lack of sleep and legal prescription drugs can trigger quicker HGN movement.
- Walk-and-turn — The police officer asks you to walk in a straight line, taking nine heel-to-toe steps, turn on one foot and repeat in the opposite direction. Environmental factors — such as gravel, sloping terrain, distracting lights, dangerous traffic, poor lighting, or an uneven or cracked surface — can cause you to lose your balance, as can high-heel shoes, a back injury, physical limitations or inner ear infection.
- One-leg stand — The officer instructs you to lift one leg off the ground and count for 30 seconds. The same factors that affect the walk-and-turn results also affect the one-leg stand results.
Our seasoned lawyers in Inverness could challenge each field sobriety test result by meticulously investigating the circumstances surrounding the administration of the test and other factors that may have affected your ability to perform these tasks successfully.
Implied Consent and Sobriety Testing
By obtaining a driver license, you implicitly consented to submit to physical or chemical tests — such as a Breathalyzer or blood test — if requested by a law enforcement officer. A first refusal results in a one-year license suspension, and subsequent refusals result in 18-month suspensions.
Although living without the use of a vehicle is inconvenient, keep in mind that you are presumed impaired if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher and that your poor performance on a sobriety test can give the prosecution powerful evidence for its DUI case.
So, when a police officer asks you to consent to a sobriety test, you must weigh the consequences of a possible DUI conviction against the consequences of an automatic license suspension. If you believe you are likely to perform poorly on the test, it may be prudent to withhold your consent. The Inverness field sobriety testing attorneys will attend a DMV hearing and have been successful in invalidating the Administrative Suspension based on a number of factors.
Challenge Your Case with an Inverness Sobriety Tests Attorney
To challenge the circumstances surrounding your arrest and BAC testing, reach out to an Inverness sobriety tests lawyer today. We schedule your free consultation at one of three convenient office locations, in your home or at the jail, if necessary. Because a DUI arrest can occur at any time, we offer weekend and evening appointments. Our experienced lawyers represent defendants in many different locations, do not hesitate to bring your case to our dedicated team.