The most common field sobriety tests are:
- One Legged Stand. Pretty self-explanatory. The officer will ask you to stand in one place, then left a leg off the ground and balance yourself. If you cannot balance yourself on one leg properly, the officer may interpret this as a sign of intoxication.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. This one has a fancy name, but it’s relatively simple. The officer will take a handheld object such as a pen and have you follow its movements with your eyes without moving your head. They are looking for any “jerky” motions in your eyes. This is often an involuntary effect of alcohol intoxication.
- Walk a straight line and turn. You’ve seen this one in countless TV shows and movies. The officer will make you walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, then turn around at a specified point. Any fumbling, or stepping off of the line can be seen as a sign that you are drunk.
- Touch your Finger to your Nose. Again, this one speaks for itself. The officer will ask you to extend your arms out to your sides, and tough one of your fingers to your nose with your eyes closed.
- Alphabet recital. This test can be administered in several ways. The officer may ask you to say the alphabet backwards from z to a, or they may have you recite a portion of the alphabet (from D to T for example). This is to test your cognitive abilities, which may be slowed under the influence of too much alcohol.
The problem with field sobriety tests is that they are incredibly subjective. A person’s performance on these tests can be impacted by environmental conditions (if it’s really windy, it will be more difficult to balance on one leg), or a person may simply have poor balance.
One has the power but not the right to refuse to take these tests in Florida. While some think that the less evidence against you, the stronger the evidence for probable cause, the prosecution will always argue consciousness of guilt in all refusals.