Field Sobriety Exercises
During the DUI investigation, officers in Broward County, FL, are trained to administer the standardized field sobriety exercises. Although the officer can only request and not demand that you submit to the voluntary field tests, the officers are trained not to tell you that the exercises are completely voluntary.
Your performance on the exercises can show whether you had any obvious signs of impairment from drugs or alcohol. In some cases, the performance on the field sobriety exercises actually helps the person show that they are not impaired.
In many of these cases, the officers will deviate from the standardized method of administering and grading the experiences. Also, factors such as age, weight, and agility can also cause an unsatisfactory performance unrelated to alcohol intoxication or drug impairment.
Attorneys for Field Sobriety Exercises in Broward County, FL
Because field sobriety exercises play such an important role in how DUI cases are prosecuted and defended, it is important that you retain a criminal defense attorney experienced in using this type of evidence when it is helpful to the defense or moving to exclude the evidence when it is unduly prejudicial.
One important issue to consider is whether the defense can fight for the exclusion of opinion testimony about how the defendant performed on the field sobriety exercises.
If you submitted to the field sobriety exercises or refused to take them then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell. We represent clients after an arrest by officers with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Broward DUI Task Force, Florida Highway Patrol, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and other local police departments from Hallandale, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie and Wilton Manors.
Field Sobriety Exercises by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department
The standard operating procedures published by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department describe practices and procedures to be used in performing DUI investigations, arrests, necessary forms, and the use of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Breath Alcohol Testing (B.A.T.) Unit or DUI Task Force Deputies. The procedures were last revised in October of 2013.
The DUI enforcement officers with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department are trained to request the suspect perform roadside tasks for sobriety. The suspect must be given the choice, although the officers are trained NOT to tell the suspect that the field sobriety exercises are voluntary.
In some cases, the court will throw out any mention of the field sobriety exercises unless the DUI enforcement officer had free and voluntary consent to administer the exercises. In these cases, your criminal defense attorney will file and mitigate a motion to exclude mention of the field sobriety exercises.
If the suspect refuses to perform field sobriety exercises or asks if the tasks must be performed, the officer is trained to tell the suspect that their refusal or failure to comply can and will be used against them in court.
If the suspect continues to refuse to perform the field sobriety exercises, then the officer is trained to:
- Explain the purpose of the tasks is to confirm or dispel your suspicions.
- Inform the suspect that the refusal to perform the tasks can and will be used in court against them.
- Explain the possible adverse consequences of the refusal to submit to field testing. If the suspect agrees to participate in the exercises, then prior to administering the roadside tasks, the officers are trained to ask the suspect:
- if they are sick, injured, handicapped, taking medication; or
- if there is any other reason why they cannot physically perform the tasks; or
- if there is any other reason that anything that will affect the outcome.
If the officer fails to inform the subject of adverse consequences that can attach to refusing to perform the field sobriety exercises, then any mention of that refusal can be excluded from evidence by the judge.
Officers must follow strict guidelines when administering the exercises. For instance, roadside tasks must be performed on flat, level ground in a well-lighted area. Officers are trained to conduct at least three of the following roadside tasks:
- Walk and Turn;
- Finger to Nose;
- One Leg Stand;
- Romberg (standing balance test);
- The above should be combined with recitation of the alphabet; and
- If the officer has been personally trained in the use of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, this test may also be utilized.
Finding an Attorney for DUI Field Sobriety Exercises
If your DUI case involves a field sobriety exercise then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell. We understand the tactics used by DUI enforcement officers with the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Metro Broward DUI Task Force, Florida Highway Patrol, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and local police departments from Wilton Manors, Davie, Plantation, Sunrise, Coral Springs, Lauderhill, and Hallandale.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell represent clients throughout the four courthouses in Broward County including the Central Judicial Complex in Ft. Lauderdale, the North Regional Courthouse in Deerfield Beach, the West Regional Courthouse in Plantation, and the South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood, FL.
Call us at (561) 557-8686 to discuss your case today. Our experienced DUI defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can begin your case today.
This article was last updated on Monday, January 4, 2016.