3 times defendants can challenge field sobriety test results in Florida

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2023 | DUI |

When a Florida police officer pulls someone over because they suspect that the motorist in question may be driving under the influence (DUI), they will likely ask questions and will then have them exit the vehicle. They may then ask the motorist to participate in field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests can feel like a humiliating undertaking for those asked to walk and turn or stand on one leg on the side of the road. Everything that happens during such testing can end up becoming part of the state’s case against a driver in criminal court. Thankfully, these tests may be challenged as part of their DUI defense strategy under certain circumstances.

1. When an officer makes a mistake

Typically, there are three standardized field sobriety tests that look at someone’s balance, short-term memory and involuntary muscle movements. A police officer should administer standardized tests in an appropriate fashion while in the line of vision of a camera, such as their dashboard camera.

If police officers make mistakes about how or where they administer field sobriety tests, defense attorneys can potentially challenge the inclusion of test results in criminal court proceedings.

2. When the defendant has an explanation

Maybe the driver has post-traumatic stress disorder from military service and responds in a panicky manner to flashing lights. The traffic stop may have resulted in unusual behavior and jerky motions that are not indicative of alcohol impairment but rather an intense psychological response.

On the other hand, maybe someone has a medical condition that affects their balance or motor function but not their ability to drive safely. People can sometimes explain their poor performance on a field sobriety test through medical evidence.

3. When the traffic stop was illegal

Police officers who pull people over without appropriate justification or who otherwise violate someone’s rights during an encounter gather evidence that the courts may not let a prosecutor use later.

When there are reasons to question the legality of a traffic stop, defendants could prevent the inclusion of field sobriety test results and other evidence gathered during the stop from their trial.

Dissecting how the state’s evidence may be successfully challenged is often an important undertaking for those hoping to fight back against Florida DUI charges. Experienced criminal defense lawyers understand how to accomplish this aim effectively.