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Do I have to take a field sobriety test in Florida?

The field sobriety test is a test that motorists never want to take. Yet many people take these tests on the side of the road thinking that it is required of them. Legally, it is not.

Florida's implied consent laws require you to submit to a blood, breath or urine test or face suspension of your driver's license. However, no law requires you to take a field sobriety test. You do not have to submit to any kind of test unless you have been arrested and read the implied consent notice.

What is the field sobriety test?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the field sobriety test as a tool to help officers identify whether a driver may be impaired by alcohol. The test includes three parts:

  • The walk and turn: You are instructed to take nine steps, touching heel to toe, along a straight line, then turn walk in the same manner the opposite direction.
  • The one-leg stand: You are instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches above the ground and count aloud by one beginning with one thousand until the officer tells you to stop.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will instruct you to track a small object such as a pen moved in front of your eyes. The officer will look for involuntary jerking of your eyeball.

The tests are difficult to perform under stress. In reality, the tests are designed for you to fail. Many reasons other than intoxication can cause you to fail a field sobriety test.

If you are asked to perform a field sobriety test, you should politely decline. If you have taken a field sobriety test and failed it, do not give up. Contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Just because you failed the test does not mean the state can prove you were under the influence.

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