In Florida, the implied consent law requires individuals who have been lawfully arrested of driving under the influence to submit to a chemical test. However, a number of procedures might inform whether a defendant has been lawfully arrested for DUI.
In general, an officer conducting a traffic stop for a suspected drunk driver must follow certain procedures. The officer may initially ask the driver general questions, such as his or her name and destination of travel. If the officer observes bloodshot eyes, smells alcohol on a driver’s breath, or hears slurred speech, the officer may request a field sobriety test.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a series of standardized physical and/or cognitive performance tests for law enforcement to administer as field sobriety tests. The NHTSL’s recommendations include a horizontal gaze impression, a walk and turn instruction, and standing on one leg.
Although the sequence of these tests is not mandatory, it is likely that an officer will request similar tests of a driver pulled over for drunk driving in Florida. If the officer has a dash cam, he or she may even record the driver’s performance during the tests. The results are generally graded as pass or fail, based not only the driver’s physical coordination, but also how he or she carried out the instructions. The outcome of the field sobriety tests determines whether the officer has probable cause to make a DUI arrest. They tests could also be used as evidence in a criminal DUI trial.
This discussion underscores the importance of reviewing police procedures from the moment a driver has been stopped on suspicion of DUI. Our drunk driving defense law firm has the experience to conduct such a comprehensive review and maximize your defense strategy.
Source: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, “Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws,” copyright 2017, State of Florida