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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you more likely than not be asked to take a sobriety test. There are number of field sobriety tests you will be asked to do. The main ones are as follows:


  • The Walk and Turn Test: This is a test where you will be asked to walk 9 heel and toe steps down a line, take a turn, and take 9 steps back. It’s very important in the test to understand a couple things. The first, when it begins, you’re going to be asked to get in what’s called a starting position. The starting position means your hands will be down by your side, one foot will be on the line, with one foot directly in front of it. During that time period, you need maintain a steady balance. If you step off the line, that will a check mark against you. So keep a steady balance during the instructed phase. The next thing to understand is when you’re taking 9 heel and toe steps down the line, your steps need to be one in front of the other with the heel touching the toe. If there are any gaps more than a half inch, if your heels do not touch your toes that is a mark off and can be used as a basis to arrest you for a DUI. The next thing to understand is when you’re taking that turn; make sure to take that turn in the prescribed fashion. That means 3-4 small steps, and then come back down the line, heel touching toe, arms by your side without swaying or stepping off the line.
  • A One Leg Stand: Naturally you will be asked to stand with both feet side by side, hands by your side, and lift either one of your legs, left or right, off the ground for 6 inches, without swing. Things to avoid:
  1. Do not raise hands to the side to use them for balance
  2. Make sure to count out loud, so it can be heard by the law enforcement officer. One thousand one to one  thousand   thirty, clearly without messing up the count.
  3. Steer at your toe, during the time period. Again, avoid swing.
  4. If you can do those things you will score well on this test
  • Finger to Nose Test: The finger to nose test you will be asked to take your indexed fingers, bring them out from your sides, bring them to the front of your body, and touch the tip of your finger to the tip of your nose. Many times, law enforcement will ask you that 4 or 5 times. The key to this test is that they’ll ask you to do: “left, right, left right” and then they say, “Left, left, right, right” trying to make sure that you are paying attention.
  • The Alphabet Test: This test you will be asked, first, if you know your alphabet, and ask you to your your alphabet without singing or rhyming from A-Z. A couple things to keep in mind:
  1. Keep your hand by your side
  2. You can’t sing or rhyme them. You will be taken off
  3. Do it loudly and slowly
  4. The thing that is difficult here is you are also asked to keep your head tilted back and your eyes closed


If you can take these tests, practice them at home, understand what you’re going to be asked to do, you’ll do much better when you’re out on the field.


The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in ClearwaterTampaBradentonSpring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida. 

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J. Kevin Hayslett

Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.