What are the purpose of DUI tests?

August 27, 2010

During a traffic stop, the officer asked you out of your vehicle to perform "Field Sobriety Tests". What do these tests mean? Below is a brief explanation to the purpose of these tests. Field sobriety tests are physical and mental agility exercises that D.U.I. suspects are requested to perform by an investigating officer. In our legal system an officer needs probable cause to make a D.U.I. arrest and these field sobriety tests are one piece to the probable cause puzzle. Police Officers have a wide variety of "tests" they can administer to a D.U.I. suspect, however most use the walk and turn, the one leg stand, and the finger to nose test. touchingnose.jpgThese common tests are self explanatory by name and even the casual observer can see that the officers seem to be testing the suspects coordination levels. What most people don't know are that the officers are also testing your ability to follow instructions during the explanation and execution of these tests.
Even before you begin the tests, the officer is observing your behavior for D.U.I. indicators, like how straight you are standing and how alert you seem while the instructions are being read to you. Perhaps the most cited "indicator" that officers claim is a lack of the ability to follow instructions. Many times a suspect is so eager to prove their innocence, they will start the test before being told to do so and often will miss a seemingly innocuous detail. Sometimes it's something really small like starting with the left foot first when told to use the right foot. If this happens, the officer will state, " the suspect had a hard time following instructions due to being intoxicated", and use this against you in a trial.
The moral of the story is to remain calm, alert, and to listen to every detail during a D.U.I. investigation. Any encounter with a police officer usually triggers the "fight or flight response", and a D.U.I. investigation can be nerve racking. Remember that your every action is being observed and that an officer is not only testing your coordination, but your ability to listen and follow instructions.
If you were recently arrested on the charge of Driving Under the Influence and would like to speak to an attorney about your D.U.I. case, please contact The Law Office of Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A.

Michael Rodriguez limits his practice to the area of criminal defense. The Law Office of Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. is located in Daytona Beach and practices both criminal defense and personal injury.