It is likely that the officer is going to ask the driver to do a field sobriety exercise if a police officer thinks a driver is using a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Field sobriety exercises are planned to test a person’s mental and physical capabilities. Field sobriety tests are coordination and agility based exercises that can be difficult to carry out even if you are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should contact a Tampa DUI attorney right away if you performed a field sobriety exercise and were arrested for DUI. The DUI lawyers can challenge the validity of the exercise and try to lawfully get the test thrown out of court.

Also, field sobriety exercises aren’t always a precise indicator of whether or not a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are many factors that can cause a totally sober driver to appear intoxicated and fail a field sobriety exercise. For example, lack of proper instruction by the police officer, the weather, physical condition of the driver, traffic distractions and type of shoes the driver is wearing can all be factors that reduce the consistency of these exercises.

Palm Springs Police Officer Simon Min, left, gives a field sobriety test to a driver who Min suspects has had too much to drink in Palm Springs on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. Min originally stopped the driver for a burned out headlight. After passing the Breathalyzer test, Min let the driver go free. Min has recently received a statewide award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his diligence in getting drunk drivers off the road.

In determining whether or not a driver has failed a field sobriety test, police officers have been given discretion. The police officer will personally determine if the driver has either performed to standard, failed or passed the test. For drivers, this can be problematic because in many cases the police officer already suspects the driver is intoxicated and basically performs the exercise to boost the evidence against the driver. So, from refusing to participate in a field sobriety exercise most drivers will benefit. According to personal injury attorney in tampa, field sobriety exercises are voluntary unlike chemical tests for drug and alcohol use, and the driver can refuse to participate.

Used by Florida Police Officers these are the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests:

Sobriety checkpoint sign with vehicle light trails approaching on road

  • One-Leg Stand – In this test, the police officer will ask the driver to stand on one foot with the other foot lifted six inches off of the ground. Then, the officer will ask the driver to count out loud by thousands (for example 1001, 1002. . .) while maintaining her or his balance. And the driver is expected to continue counting until the officer demands him to stop. For about thirty seconds the One-Leg Stand exercise should last.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Nystagmus refers to an involuntary jerking motion in the eyes. The police officer will hold an object (usually a pen) in front of the driver, during the HGN exercise and ask the driver to follow the object with his eyes. If his eyes begin twitching or if the driver is not capable of following the object this is viewed by police officers as a sign of intoxication or drug use.
  • Walk and Turn – In this test the police officer will instruct the driver to take a few steps in a straight line at the same time as touching heel to toe, and then turn around and do again the action in the opposite direction.

A police officer can request the driver to do other non-standardized field sobriety exercises in addition to these three exercises. These non-standardized field sobriety exercises can include the counting backwards, finger-to-nose test, recitation of the alphabet, and some other balancing exercises.