What Happens If I Don’t Pass Field Sobriety Tests?

DUI, driving under the influence, is a serious charge and comes with severe penalties if convicted. A charge of DUI typically begins with a traffic stop. Before you’re even stopped, it’s quite possible that the police officer already has a feeling that you may be DUI. This may be due to the way you were driving or because of the time and location of the traffic stop. When you’re stopped for a traffic violation, the police officer will approach your vehicle and ask to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Field Sobriety Tests

During the traffic stop, the officer may feel as though you may be DUI. If so, he may ask you to step out of the car and perform some simple roadside tests. These tests are commonly referred to as field sobriety tests because they are done at the side of road where the traffic stop takes place. There are a number of common field sobriety tests that may be done including:

  • HGM – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – This test is a way to check the eye’s reaction to light and movement. To perform the test, the officer shines a light towards the retina, moving it back and forth. You must follow the light with only your eyes. If someone has been drinking, the reaction to this test will be slowed and the eyes will move in a jerking motion rather than in a smooth line.
  • Walking a Straight Line – In this test, the officer finds a line on the ground and asks you to take steps forward. The steps must be done in a specific way as described to you. For example, you may be asked to take 9 steps, walking heel to toe.
  • Standing on One Leg – This simple test requires you to stand on one leg, holding the other leg out in front on an angle for a period of about 20 seconds. Those who are impaired may find it difficult to balance and may stumble.
  • Reciting the Alphabet – This common field sobriety test requires you to recite the alphabet, without singing. An indication of possible DUI is when the person skips some letters or is unable to complete the assignment.

Implied Consent and DUI Tests

Florida has an implied consent law in place. Implied consent means that as a licensed driver, you have already agreed to take DUI tests if asked to do so by a member of law enforcement. Implied consent doesn’t technically apply to field sobriety tests. So, you could refuse to take a field sobriety test. However, if you refuse to take them, the officer can immediately place you under arrest on suspicion of DUI. At this point, you will be required to submit to DUI testing in the form of a breath, urine, or blood test.

Field tests are somewhat subjective; however, they are based on scientific principles. Failure to submit to these tests, while not against the law, will probably be used against you in court. If you have been charged with DUI it is important to speak to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review the circumstances of the arrest and assist in determining the best way to proceed.