What You Should Know About Field Sobriety Tests

When you have been arrested for driving under the influence, DUI, you might be wondering what you should know about the dreaded field sobriety test (FST). For example, will you have to recite the alphabet backward (a feat many of us cannot do sober, let alone during a stressful interaction with a police officer)? What are your rights?

In this brief article, a top DWI attorney in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares what you need to know about field sobriety tests, and how to best defend yourself against charges of DUI or DWI in Florida.

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

When you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test, complete a field sobriety test, or both. It is important to note: a field sobriety test is not the same thing as being asked to breathe into a breathalyzer.

A field sobriety test might consist of three methods:


  • The “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus” test (which notably produces incorrect results 23% of the time according to The Southern California Research Institute, sponsored by NHTSA.)
  • The “Walk & Turn” test (in which results will be wrong 32% of the time.)
  • The “One Leg Stand” test (which yields incorrect results 35% of the time.)

Any other tests, including the infamous “alphabet” test and the finger to nose test, have been proven to lack scientific evidence as to their usefulness in proving a DUI and are not endorsed by the federal government or any law enforcement agencies.

Should You Take a Field Sobriety Test, or Refuse?

You may be wondering if a field sobriety test is mandatory. In Florida, the FST is not mandatory, but if you refuse you risk the officer making a decision to arrest and charge you with a DUI based on other factors.

For example, if you exhibit signs of impairment or smell of alcohol, you run the very high risk of arrest if you decide to challenge or refuse the FST. But, it should be noted that if the officer is asking that you perform FST’s, it is likely that he has already made up his mind that he is going to charge you with a DUI offense in our experience.

If you do decide to comply, the arrest might be avoided if you pass the test. If you decide to take the test, you should promptly tell the officer about any physical or mental problems that might have an impact on your ability to perform the tests.

Contact The Top DWI Attorney in Clearwater to Review Your FST

Most FSTs are recorded by the officer on video. This is made possible in part by body cams and dash cams. It is important to prove that the FST was administered properly in order to be admissible. Having a lawyer in our office review your field sobriety test results could be imperative in uncovering defenses in your case. A flawed FST might result in your charges being lowered to reckless driving or dismissed altogether.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, contact the best DWI lawyers in Clearwater, Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. Your attorney will discuss the best strategy to approach your case and will provide you with clear guidance on the best defense available.

For a free consultation with DWI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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