If you are stopped, and the police officer suspects that you are DUI, he or she may ask you to perform Field Sobriety Exercises (FSEs), also known as "field sobriety tests," or simply "roadsides," due to the fact that these tests are conducted along the side of the road.
DUI Field Sobriety Exercises
Posted By Eric Matheny
When you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, the officer will usually ask you to step out of the car and perform these tests. Your performance on these tests will more than likely determine whether the officer is going to arrest you for DUI or not. He or she will not tell you this, but you are allowed to refuse to perform these tests. Now, if you refuse, the officer will more than likely take you to jail. But then again, if you participate, there's no guarantee that you are going to be let go either.
Roadsides are not meant for you to pass. Now police officers claim that roadsides are "diverted attention" exercises, meant to test a driver's ability to both perform certain tasks as well as follow directions. That's not necessarily true. Roadsides are meant for you fail. Something as simple as one's naturally poor balance, a dimly lit street, or uneven pavement can cause you to score "cues," or indicators to the officer that you are impaired.
Now, the refusal to submit to roadside tests will not cause your driver's license to be suspended. That only happens when you refuse to submit to a breath test. If the police officer tells you that your license will be suspended if you don't perform the roadsides, or makes any other threat or promise regarding in order to scare you into taking these tests, tell a criminal attorney right away, namely one who handles DUI cases in Miami and Broward. This can provide an attorney with the legal ammunition needed to get your roadside results suppressed.
If you do decide to participate in the roadside tests, there are 3-5 tests that will be administered. The tests will either be administered by the officer who pulled you over, or they may call in for specialized DUI-certified police officers. The tests are as follows:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): This is the test where the officer will hold a pen in front of your face and move it from side-to-side. The officer is testing the tracking of your eyes. If you are impaired, your eyes will likely "jerk" from side-to-side as they follow the movement of the pen.
Walk and Turn Test: This is the famous test where you will be asked to walk a straight line and turn. The officer will be testing whether you can follow his or her instructions, and whether you can walk the line without stepping off, slipping, or stumbling. Remember - the officer is looking to see how well you follow directions. You can fail this test, even without stepping off the line, if you do not take the right number of steps, leave too much space between your heel and toe, or start before being told to.
One Leg Stand: In this test, the officer will have you stand on one leg for thirty seconds. He or she is testing to see if you stumble, sway, put your other foot down, or hop. If you have naturally poor balance, you will fail this test.
If you don't believe me, try it right now. Stand on one leg for thirty seconds, arms at your side, and stay completely still. Unless you are a world-class athlete with stellar balance and coordination, you will probably hop, sway, stumble, or at least raise your arms for balance. If you have done any of those things, you would have failed this test.
Romberg Balance: This test is not always conducted, but involves standing on one leg with your head back, trying to estimate thirty seconds by counting in your head.
Finger-to-Nose: This test, not always conducted either, requires you to put your head back and touch your finger to your nose. You will be directed whether to use your right or left. The officer is checking to see how well you follow directions, and how accurately you touch your nose with the tip of your finger.
Roadsides are tough for anybody. Now imagine having to take them in a nervous state (we're all nervous around cops). You are not going to pass. Plain and simple.
It is your decision whether or not you refuse, but you do have the ability to say "no." Mind you, you will likely go to jail, but in the end, the State Attorney's Office will have far less evidence upon which to prosecute you than if you had taken the roadsides and performed poorly. That officer will be in court for your trial, and he or she will give detailed and experienced testimony about how badly you performed.
DUIs are serious. The mandatory sentences include convictions, probation, and driver's license suspensions. A conviction cannot be sealed or expunged. Only if a good Miami DUI attorney, or Broward DUI attorney, is able to get your DUI dismissed can the arrest be expunged from your record. Also, a good DUI attorney may be able to get your DUI reduced to reckless driving, which is also a huge victory.
I am a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, and have prosecuted thousands of DUI cases. I have also defended plenty, but as a former prosecutor, I know the arguments, the tricks, and the strategies employed by the State to seek a conviction against you. Don't take chances with a DUI. The long-term effects can be devestating. You can have a conviction on your record, you can lose your license, and you can be dropped by your insurance company. Even if your company does not drop you, your rates will skyrocket and will likely remain there for up to three years.
The State takes DUIs very seriously. So do I. Call me, a DUI attorney, today.