Police Officers making arrests for DUIs and Prosecutors pursuing charges in criminal Court have two main paths toward securing a conviction. The most direct is showing a driver had a blood-alcohol level more than the legal limit. The other way is to establish a driver consumed enough alcohol to be impaired to the point that they cannot properly control their vehicle. When a Prosecution’s case attempts to show this second point, results of field sobriety tests are of the most concern.
Police Officers like to believe the results of these tests are proof of a person’s intoxication. In reality, this is far from the truth. These tests are non-scientific, and the Officer asking a driver to perform the test is always open to cross-examination at Trial. At the same time, drivers have the right to refuse to submit to these tests without penalty. This contrasts with the implied consent for breath, blood, or urine tests. A seasoned Attorney is ready to provide more information about field sobriety tests in Plantation DUI cases.
What to Know About Field Sobriety Tests at the Scene of a Traffic Stop
Driving on any public road comes with the implied consent to submit to tests concerning one’s sobriety. However, there is a stark difference between “scientific tests,” such as blood, breath, and urine tests, and those that rely on an arresting Officer’s observations. Field sobriety tests fall into the latter category.
All drivers must take a blood, breath, or urine test if an Officer reasonably suspects intoxication. This is part of the social contract of having a driver’s license. By contrast, there is never a requirement to take a field sobriety test because everyone has the right to avoid self-incrimination. While this may not stop an arrest from taking place, it can limit the potential evidence that may come forward at a Trial. An Attorney in Plantation could provide more guidance about how field sobriety tests in DUI cases affect the moments following a traffic stop.
Field Sobriety Tests and DUI Trials
Prosecutors seeking DUI convictions under Florida Statute § 316.193 must prove one of two things. The first is that a driver had a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or more. The purpose of blood, breath, or urine tests is to measure this intoxication level.
A prosecutor may also attempt to show that a driver’s use of a drug or alcohol impaired them to the point that they could not safely operate a vehicle. The purpose of field sobriety tests in DUI cases is to help a Police Officer in Plantation make this determination. As a result, many DUI arrests center around little more than an Officer’s opinion.
Many drunk driving trials will revolve around a Police Officer’s testimony on the witness stand. A Lawyer is prepared to evaluate all reports that the Officer prepared after the arrest and ready to perform an effective cross-examination that calls their conclusions into doubt.
An Attorney Could Further Explain the Purpose of Field Sobriety Tests in Plantation DUI Cases
Field sobriety tests are one method of evidence gathering that Police Officers use to build DUI cases against suspected drunk drivers. Even with their reputation as being reliable tests, the truth is that they are far from conclusive. Unlike blood, breath, or urine tests, the point of a field test is to allow Law Enforcement to form an opinion, not gather scientific data. This means that the Officer is vulnerable to cross-examination at trial.
Drivers have every right to refuse to submit to balance tests, eye-following tests, or any other task that Law Enforcement may ask them to perform. While this may not prevent an arrest, it can be a powerful way to limit the State’s evidence at an eventual trial. Contact a Lawyer at Leifert & Leifert now to learn more about field sobriety tests in Plantation DUI cases.