In West Palm Beach, field sobriety tests are physical exercises that are used to determine whether or not a person’s normal faculties may be impaired. They may be called abnormal tests, as the tasks the person is asked to perform are not normal. However, they are used to determine impairment.
There are many different types of DUI field sobriety tests in West Palm Beach. To best understand these tests, as well as how to defend against any sort of criminal charge that may result, it is imperative to consult with a West Palm Beach DUI lawyer immediately.
Use of Field Sobriety Testing
Although there are a number of field sobriety tests that may be used by law enforcement at a traffic stop, only the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one leg stand tests are the only ones approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and therefore are the only ones that are admissible. With that said, each officer uses these tests in unique ways and may use other tests such as reciting the alphabet to determine whether someone should be placed under arrest.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
The first field sobriety test that an officer may administer in West Palm Beach is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. However, this is rarely admissible in court. This is a test that is used to measure an involuntary response in the muscles of a person’s eye.
There are theories that an individual’s eyes cannot track certain objects or cannot maintain position within the sockets if a person is impaired. There may be a jerking of the eyeballs or no smooth pursuit of the object when this test is being conducted.
This is a medical test and most judges will require a doctor to testify to that. However, law enforcement officers are allowed to perform that test on the side of the road to determine whether or not a person is impaired.
Walk and Turn
The walk and turn test is where an officer is going to point out a line on the road, and they are going to ask the person to walk one foot in front of the other on that line. There are certain instructions, including walking heel to toe or doing a certain amount of steps. This is typically nine steps forward, taking slow steps around on the same spot, and then walking nine steps back heel to toe.
In this DUI field sobriety test, West Palm Beach officers are looking to determine a person’s ability to follow instructions, balance, dexterity, and whether or not they can actually walk in straight line. The results of this test can determine whether or not a person may be charged with driving under the influence in West Palm Beach.
One Leg Stand
The one leg stand test is when a person puts their hands by their side, tilts their head back, and is asked to stand and raise one foot up with their toes facing up and their heel down. They must hold their foot approximately six inches from the ground and hold it out for up to 30 seconds.
In this field sobriety test, officers in West Palm Beach are looking for comprehension of the instructions, balance, and dexterity. They will determine if the person is able to hold their leg up or if they have to put it down. Based on the results of this test, an officer will determine whether or not they have enough evidence to charge the person with a DUI in West Palm Beach. The point of administering such DUI field sobriety tests in West Palm Beach is to best understand a person’s level of impairment.
Refusing Field Sobriety Tests
Refusing West Palm Beach field sobriety tests applies to anyone being stopped or suspected of a DUI. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, they are not compulsory, a person would not lose their driver’s license for failing to perform a field sobriety tests where they would if they fail to give a chemical breath, blood, or urine test. In a chemical test, there is blood, breath, or urine, so a person is allowed to decline that, if a person declines to give a field sobriety test, it shifts the burden to the officer to give the individual signals referred to as Taylor warnings.
Does Age Play a Role in Refusal Cases?
An 18-year-old will perform it in a different way than a 50-year old that is in good shape and a 70-year-old who is not in good shape; they are all given the same tests to perform. A lawyer can advise people not to do them, they have a right not to do them, most of the cases that we are most successful with are when people say the least and do the least because it denies law enforcement any evidence of any impairment and the last thing a person wants to do is give them evidence that they can use against them.
Relationship with Law Enforcement
The officer must tell a person that if they are refusing West Palm Beach field sobriety tests, the officer would have no further evidence to dispel alarm that they may be impaired and the officer would have to make a decision right in there as to whether or not they are impaired.
The tests are designed to give the person an opportunity to dispel the suspicion that they are impaired and if they still continue to refuse to do those tests, the officer has to make a decision based on what they saw and the refusal to submit to the field sobriety test can be used against them in the Court of law. Attorneys advise people not to perform these field sobriety tests because they are not conclusive, they are not designed for everybody, they are standard tests. Some argue that these tests are unfair and are designed to make you fail.