What tests can I expect at a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | DUI Defense

A police officer stops your car and asks if you’ve been drinking. Maybe you have been, but perhaps you haven’t. Either way, finding yourself in this situation can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Having a little knowledge about the steps taken during a Florida DUI stop can help prepare you for this scenario or even help you deal with the aftermath of an arrest.

Namely, it can be helpful to know the types and purposes of the sobriety tests that police officers ask drivers to perform. Below is a summary of typical measures taken to determine if the driver is lawfully operating their vehicle.

The breath test

One well-known method to determine sobriety is a breath test. Through this test, a breathalyzer device captures a breath sample, and the reading reflects the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the individual. In Florida, a BAC of .08 or higher warrants an arrest.

The big three

Besides checking someone’s BAC, Florida’s police officers use three standard tests to determine if a car operator is impaired. This includes the following:

  • Walk-and-turn: This is one that, even if you’ve never been involved in a DUI stop, you’ve at least witnessed a walk-and-turn performance on a drive home after bar close or on television. During this test, after exiting their vehicle, drivers must take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn on one foot, and take nine steps in the opposite direction in the same manner.
  • One-leg stand: The name of this one is almost self-explanatory, as drivers must balance on one foot while raising the other about six inches from the ground for 30 seconds. Drivers must also count aloud, starting at 1,001 until the officer asks them to stop.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: This test may be the most difficult to pronounce but is also straightforward. Put simply, a police officer will ask a driver to follow a small object, like a pen or flashlight, with their eyes.

Each test lets drivers prove their sobriety by demonstrating that their balance, vision and focus are sharp. The first two tests can be a way to see if a driver’s coordination seems off, while the third test allows the officer to check for uncontrollable eye jerking. All three tests can be a good measure of the driver’s ability to follow directions and apply their utmost attention to the task at hand.

The surprises

Beyond the three standardized tests, non-standardized tests can also be at play during a DUI stop. This could include counting backward or reciting the alphabet. Under all circumstances, remaining calm and listening carefully can go a long way and the choice to partake in the test is yours. Knowing that details like faulty instructions or certain health conditions can make passing these tests impossible is also crucial.

If you’re coping with the consequences of a DUI stop and conviction, this isn’t the end of your road. Seeking legal assistance can help lessen penalties or even eliminate charges.