Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys
Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

If you have ever been pulled over at a DUI checkpoint or have been previously been accused of drunk driving, you may be familiar with Florida's Field Sobriety Tests. Even still, it is crucial that you understand the laws surrounding these tests and how you can protect your rights in these types of situations.

While drunk driving laws vary from state to state, most law enforcement officers use the same field Sobriety Tests, also known as FSTs. These tests are used to determine whether an individual is illegally driving while under the influence of alcohol. These tests are basically used to help police establish probable cause for your arrest. However, before they can administer these tests, they must have a reason to pull you over.

What do the tests consist of?

The Field Sobriety Tests are essentially a series of standardized tests that target either physical or cognitive performances. They can only be given to a driver under reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. If you believe an officer violated your rights in asking you take a test, you may be able to take legal action. You also do not have to legally perform any of the tests, though if you refuse, it may result in further charges.

The standardized FSTs include the following:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: An officer will look for involuntary jerking or bouncing of your eyeball, which is often caused by alcohol consumption.
  • One-Leg Stand: This is a divided attention test and will require you to stand with one foot off the ground while counting by thousands.
  • Walk-and-Turn: An officer will ask you to take nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. You must then turn one foot and return on the same path.

The officer will be looking for signs, such as improper turns, miscounting, swaying, etc. If an officer believes that it is necessary to use further tests, they may also ask you to perform the Finger-to-Nose Test, the Romberg Alphabet Test, or the Counting Test.

When could I be asked to perform a FSTs?

The officer will need an established reason to pull you over and ask you to perform these tests.

You may encounter these tests in the following types of situations:

  • You were pulled over for a traffic offense or violation
  • You were pulled over for swerving or dangerous driving
  • There is a DUI roadblock or checkpoint
  • You have been in an automobile or roadside accident

Under law, you have the right to refuse any of these tests, however, you may still be charged with DUI. This will limit the amount of evidence a prosecutor can use against you though. Contact our firm if you have more questions about FSTs and protecting your rights in a DUI arrest.

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Our Victories

  • Not Guilty, Acquitted at Trial Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon

    Outcome: Client was alleged to have used his vehicle to strike victim, and there was video of the incident which could have been interpreted to actually show the crime. The state was offering significant prison time before trial. By meticulous planning and strategic cross-examination to expose the motives and fabrications by the alleged victim, and an eyewitness in support of the alleged victim, Rudenberg & Glasser convinced a jury to acquit the client and avoid a mandatory long prison sentence.

  • Domestic Violence
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser went to trial and were able to show during cross-examination that the alleged victim was the aggressor and that the client acted in self-defense. The jury returned a not guilty verdict almost immediately following trial.
  • Domestic Violence With 911 Call and Pictures
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser took the case to trial after fleshing out inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the client's unblemished record was preserved.
  • False Arrest

    Outcome: Attorney Glasser was able to show with video footage that his client did not commit the alleged offense and furthermore, the police officer who ordered his arrest was negligent in his investigation and improperly supervised.

    Read more about this story on the Sun Sentinel.

  • Probation Only Federal Conspiracy to Commit Mail & Wire Fraud

    Outcome: Through compelling sentencing memorandum and passionate oral argument, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to convince the federal court judge to sentence their client to treatment for substance abuse, and no incarceration, even though the client had a lengthy criminal history and the Government was seeking prison time.

  • Felony DUI: Client was in an Accident and Left the Scene
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser filed a compelling motion to suppress evidence based on law enforcement's actions during the investigation. Rudenberg & Glasser were able to persuade the prosecutor prior to the motion to suppress hearing that the charge should be broken down from a felony to a misdemeanor and the client was offered probation instead of the previously sought prison sentence.
  • Final Injunction Hearing
    Outcome: Client desperately needed to avoid a final injunction on his record. Rudenberg & Glasser defended him at the hearing and proved that the Petitioner was not in fear for her safety. The judge dismissed the injunction.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: Resisting Police Officer Without Violence
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg presented evidence that the police officer’s version of events was not credible, and that accusations were made to justify excessive use of force by police officer. Jury returned a verdict of not guilty in less than five minutes.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanors: DUI & Possession of Cannabis
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg won a motion arguing the DUI checkpoint was conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and the Judge entered an order suppressing all evidence. Case was dropped by the State, and client avoided a mandatory conviction for DUI, as well as mandatory fines and license suspensions.
  • $250,000 Pre-Trial Personal Injury

    Outcome: Client was injured by a malfunctioning door, requiring stitches and leaving a scar on client's knee. There were limited medical bills and no surgeries, but through extremely challenging and successful negotiations, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to secure a settlement of $250,000.

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