If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you need to seek representation immediately. DUI penalties can include jail, fines, loss of license, and a criminal record. The good news is that an effective DUI defense lawyer, like Christopher M. Sierra of St. Petersburg, can attack the prosecutorial case via a number of angles. Some of the most common errors that police officers make on DUI arrests are improperly administering and documenting field sobriety exercises.
What to Expect During Field Sobriety Exercises
In the state of Florida, field sobriety exercises are voluntary. They can be very challenging, even for a sober person, so it’s usually in your best interest to decline. Officers usually video record your performance, and that can be strong evidence to use against you in a criminal court.
All field sobriety exercises should be conducted in a clean, well-lit surface that’s free of debris. The terrain should be flat. So, for instance, a parking lot pavement would usually work. The officer should ask you if you have any condition that would prohibit you from performing the tests. If you’re pregnant or have had knee surgery, these would be valid conditions that could affect the test’s outcome. You should also be given the opportunity to remove your shoes if you feel that they would affect the test (i.e. platform shoes, stilettos)
Here are the recommended field sobriety exercises in the state of Florida. Officers should explain and demonstrate each one before asking you to perform them.
The subject is instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine similar steps back. The officer is looking for difficulty balancing, gaps between heel and toe, and miscounts.
The One-Leg Stand
The subject is instructed to raise one leg six inches off of the ground while keeping their hands at their sides. They are told to count “1001, 1002, … 1030.” The officer is observing balance, any foot touches to the ground, and miscounts.
The subject is told to stand with their feet together, hands at their side, with their head tilted back, and eyes closed. The officer then calls out left or right and the subject raises their finger and touches the tip of their nose. The officer is looking for missed touches, opening eyes, or using the wrong hand.
Common Arguments to Suppress Roadside Tests
Your attorney may use some of the following arguments to get roadside exercises dismissed:
- The officer did not use the term “voluntary,” implying that the tests were required.
- The officer chose an unsuitable location.
- The subject advised the officer of a health condition that affected their ability to do the test.
- The subject was not advised that they could remove their shoes.
- The officer failed to demonstrate the tests.
- The officer used a non-standard test or application of the test.
If you were arrested for a DUI in Pinellas County, contact attorney Christopher M. Sierra to discuss your case. He has an established track record of beating DUI charges. Call today to schedule a consultation.