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Florida DUI Defense Attorney > Blog > DUI Defense > How Do You Pass A Field Sobriety Test?

How Do You Pass A Field Sobriety Test?


“I couldn’t do that even if I was sober!” That’s the sort of thing drivers say when they’re pulled over by police who demand a field sobriety test. Perhaps that is the lone benefit of the test because it sounds like the suspect is admitting guilt. The fact is, no one can pass a field sobriety test. They’re designed for the sole purpose of failing you and giving the police officer probable cause to arrest you. They have no scientific merit whatsoever, and in most cases, aren’t used in court other than to establish that the officer had good reason to take the driver off the road and initiate the arrest.

On the other hand, you have a right to refuse field sobriety tests. They are voluntary. If you are not under the influence of alcohol, you should avoid the field sobriety tests entirely and demand that the officer perform a breathalyzer test. If you are under the influence of alcohol, there is still no benefit to performing the field sobriety test because you will likely fail.

On what do field sobriety tests base their merit? 

In closed clinical studies conducted by doctors, these tests were administered and found to have a rate of success somewhere between 70% and 80%. However, when the same tests were employed with police officers, they showed much lower efficacy at determining whether or not a suspect was inebriated. In fact, not surprisingly, they always seemed to think that the suspect was inebriated regardless of whether or not they were.

Why don’t field sobriety tests have any merit? 

Studying tests in clinical settings as administered by doctors to patients with no stake is not a valid way to determine the efficacy of a test. You cannot control for the suspect’s fear when the stakes are going to jail or getting to spend the night in your nice warm bed with no consequences. Nor can you employ doctors to administer the tests. While police officers are trained by doctors, they cannot interpret like doctors. As an example, if I’m asked to stand on one knee, a doctor would likely know if I had a knee problem. The police officer would not. Hence the studies that show efficacy rates in the high 70% range do not establish the conditions necessary to determine its efficacy in the field.

What is the point of field sobriety tests? 

The point of a field sobriety test is to establish probable cause for an arrest. A police officer cannot simply accuse you of being drunk and take you down to the station. They must act in accord with the law. The law says they need probable cause. Field sobriety tests are how they establish probable cause in cases where a defendant doesn’t reek of alcohol or weed. They can then say, “Hey, this guy can barely stand.” But smelling alcohol on the breath or other obvious instances of bad driving are also probable cause. In fact, that’s better probable cause than a field sobriety test. It makes for a better case against the defendant.

Call an Orlando DUI Attorney Today 

If you’re facing DUI charges in Orlando, call the experienced Florida DUI defense attorneys at FL DUI Group today and we can begin the process of preparing your defense against the charges.

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