Field Sobriety Exercises

Field Sobriety Exercises, commonly called the Roadside Tests, are a set of exercises that an officer performs on an individual to determine if their normal faculties are impaired. Florida law defines normal faculties as your ability to hear, see, speak, and make judgments. In essence normal faculties is what we all perform on our normal daily basis. These exercises are entirely subjective meaning that it is up to the individual officer to determine if you pass or fail. In my experience, once an officer asks you to perform these exercises he or she has already made up their mind that you are going to get arrested for a DUI. These exercises are just that; exercises. These are not tests and are highly inaccurate. I have had much success having these exercises either thrown out before trial or lose their effectiveness during trial. 

Florida law does not require that these exercises be performed. Thus, my recommendation is always to refuse these exercises. The worst is that this refusal will be used against you in court. But there are no additional penalties for refusing. So why give the prosecutor additional ammunition against you? You are likely going to jail whether you to do the exercises or not. Thus you are better off not doing them. 

What are the exercises?

There are three standard exercises that were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The three standard tests used in MIami DUI stops are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Walk and Turn

One Leg Stand 

There are additional tests that NHTSA has not classified as standard but may be used depending on the officer or jurisdiction:

Finger to Nose

The driver is asked to bring the tip of their index finger up to touch the tip of their nose. The driver will perform this exercise with their eyes closed and their head tilted slightly back, standing with their feet together and arms at their sides. The driver will attempt this exercise six times, three with each hand. The officer will instruct the driver as to which hand to use for each attempt. The officer should always use this sequence when administering this exercise: "left...right...left...right...right...left". 

Alphabet Test

This exercise requires the driver to recite a part of the alphabet. The officer should instruct the driver to recite the alphabet beginning with a letter other than A and stopping at a letter other than Z. This test is designed to divide the driver's attention because they have to start the alphabet at a point that is not normal and they have to remember what letter to stop since the officer will instruct the letter to stop at. This exercise is horrible. I don't many people that can recite the alphabet without starting at ABCDEF...

Counting Test

This exercise requires the driver to count out loud 15 or more numbers in reverse sequence. An officer may ask the driver to start at number 73 and count backwards out loud to number 58. This is another example of a divided attention test because a driver must concentrate while counting backwards and must remember what number to stop at. 

Attacking The Field Sobriety Exercises

There are numerous defenses that can be used to suppress the results of the exercises listed above. These include the officer’s training or lack of training. The location where the exercises were performed. Was the surface flat or level, were there cars driving by that caused you to be distracted? Do you have knee or back problems that prevented you from performing the exercises properly? Were you wearing high heels? As you can see there are numerous factors that can be used to defend you against these exercises. Only a skilled and knowledgeable Miami DUI  attorney can truly use all of your available defenses to get you the best result possible. Again this is why DUI defense is a specialized area of law and you should only trust a DUI attorney in Miami that is dedicated to this area of law. 

If you are facing a DUI in Miami please contact me directly so that I may answer any questions you have and provide you with a free case evaluation. My practice focuses on DUI defense in Miami. Let’s talk about your case and what defenses it might have.