Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Articles Explaining Field Sobriety Tests

Explaining Field Sobriety Tests

By Thomas & Paulk, P.A.  Jun. 15, 2011 2:34p

When a driver is pulled over on a routine traffic stop and the police officer suspects drunk driving, field sobriety tests may be conducted at the scene. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of three tests which are conducted in a standard manner. These tests are used to help a police officer observe signs of impairment so that he can establish probable cause for an arrest. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a Tampa DUI attorney without delay.

A research study was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which was conducted by the Southern California Research Institute. These standardized field sobriety tests were developed as a result of the study. Subsequently, a formal training program was developed and made available for law enforcement officer training, through the NHTSA. The three standardized field sobriety tests are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – The HGN test observes the person’s involuntary jerking of the eyes. With this test the police officer will ask the suspect to follow an object such as a pen or their finger with their eyes, without moving their head.

Walk and TurnThis test is called a “divided attention” test, which is easy to perform by a person who is not impaired. This test requires a person to listen and follow directions while performing physical movements at the same time. A person who is under the influence of alcohol will have difficulty dividing their attention between simple mental and physical exercises.

One Leg StandWith this test the suspect is told to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count by thousands (One thousand-one, one thousand-two) until they are instructed to put their foot down on the ground. At which point the officer times the suspect for 30 seconds. During this time, the officer will be looking for signs of impairment such as hopping to keep their balance, swaying etc.

Tampa DUI Lawyer on Your Side

If you were arrested for DUI in the Tampa area, you most likely performed the above field sobriety tests. However, it is important to remember that these tests are not infallible. Anything is open to question, and DUI arrests are no exclusion to the rule. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a Tampa DUI attorney at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. We have a thorough understanding of how field sobriety tests and chemical tests are conducted, as well as how mistakes can occur. Let us use our knowledge and experience to protect your legal rights and possibly help you protect your freedom and your license.

Contact a Tampa DUI lawyer from our firm for a free initial consultation.

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