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What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?

When a Florida law enforcement official pulls over a driver for suspected drunk driving, that officer may ask the driver to submit to various forms of sobriety testing. The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are a collection of roadside tests that are nationally accepted to judge a driver's coordination and capacity to drive. The results of such tests can be used as the basis of a driver's arrest for drunk driving, as well as evidence of their impairment once the matter goes to trial.

The first of the SFSTs is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. During this test a suspected drunk driver is asked to follow an object with their eyes. The officer administering the test looks for jerky or erratic eye movement, which can be evidence of intoxication.

Next, an officer administering SFSTs could subject a driver to the walk and turn test. This test is effectively what it sounds like - a driver walks toe to heel, turns and walks back to where they started. If the driver takes the incorrect number of steps, stumbles, cannot hold their balance or demonstrates other problems with their coordination, then the officer may have grounds to arrest them for DUI or another drunk driving crime.

Finally, the last SFST is the one-leg stand. It is also quite self-explanatory. During this test the driver is asked to lift one foot off the ground and hold their balance for half a minute. Balance problems can become evident during this test and give officers the evidence they need to make drunk driving arrests.

Although the tests mentioned in this post are generally standardized, it is important for readers to remember that a lot of variations can be present in the conditions of their administration. Uneven ground, weather complications and other issues can directly impact a driver's ability to succeed at these tests and can falsely provide evidence of intoxication against them as they face serious DUI charges.

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