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Refusing field sobriety tests in Naples, Florida

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | DUI/DWI Defense

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. It can result in serious legal consequences, such as fines, license suspension or revocation and even imprisonment. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a first conviction carries a minimum fine of $500 and possible imprisonment of up to six months.

Police officers have the authorization to pull over and investigate drivers suspected of driving under the influence. As part of their investigation, they may ask drivers to perform a field sobriety test (FST) to assess their level of impairment. For residents of Naples, understanding the smartest procedure might prevent or reduce charges.

Field sobriety tests count as evidence

An FST is a series of physical and cognitive tests that evaluate a driver’s coordination, balance, and cognitive abilities. These tests include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. If a driver fails an FST, it counts as evidence in court to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Field sobriety tests are not mandatory

However, drivers have the right to refuse an FST, and there are several reasons why they might choose to do so. First and foremost, FSTs are subjective and susceptible to influence from various factors, such as the driver’s physical condition, the road surface or weather conditions.

Finally, drivers may choose to decline an FST to avoid incriminating themselves. If a driver fails an FST, it can be evidence against them in court. By refusing to take an FST, drivers can avoid providing the prosecution with additional evidence.

It is essential to remember that FSTs are subjective, and drivers may have valid reasons for refusing to take them. However, drivers should also be aware that refusing an FST can have administrative consequences depending on the police officer.