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Florida DUI Investigations and Roadside Sobriety Exercises
By: M. Dye
Posted on : August 19, 2012   Views : 3613
Roadside sobriety exercises are a critical part of a majority of DUI cases. Roadside sobriety exercises is the common name for the \"National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.\" Otherwise abbreviated NHTSA SFST\'s. The most important thing that anybody should know about the SFST\'s is that, under Florida Law, there isn\'t a requirement for you to perform the exercises. A good portion of experienced DUI attorneys will tell you that the SFST\'s are designed to fail and nearly impossible to pass with a .000 blood alcohol level. This can be a difficult proposition for people to believe. Society, specifically members of the jury, through television and other sources of information are indoctrinated to believe that the roadside sobriety exercises accurately determine who\'s impaired. If done correctly inside of a closed setting, roadside sobriety exercises may be fairly accurate in determining who is too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. Indeed, the cops that have to learn to give the instructions are taught during a classroom setting. The class which teaches the police officers ways to properly administer the roadside sobriety exercises is a three day class. This highlights a fundamentally unfair proposition. Why do the police officers get three full days of classroom instruction complete with live exercises in order to get the roadsides correct? A driver does not get three full days. The police expect near perfection from a driver at 3:00am on a Saturday morning on the side of the road while it is raining. Not just is it not fair, but it clearly illustrates the proposition the tests are designed to fail.There are only 3 roadside sobriety exercises which are correlated to impairment and recognized by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration. Those three tests are the walk and turn; the one leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These tests are \"standardized\" meaning the tests have to be conducted the very same way each time under the appropriate conditions in order for the results to have any validity to a DUI case.A DUI Attorney should scrutinize the multiple variables that effected the outcome of the test. The police are trained to minimize the impact of these variables, but the effect can usually not be completely eliminated. For example, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test can be severely effected and the results rendered useless thanks to lights passing through the field of vision. This is called an optokinetic nystagmus and is a specific type of horizontal gaze nystagmus. Most police officers have been trained to realize the possibility for an optokinetic nystagmus and will turn off their overhead emergency lights during a DUI investigation. However, there is almost no way to avoid an optokinetic nystagmus if the DUI investigation is happening on a busy road during the night. The issues are just too numerous to overcome. Headlights traveling through the field of vision, shadows created by passing lights as well as the shadows contrasting with the lights will likely render the test inaccurate at best.A crucial variable for the walk and turn test is whether the surface selected for the test is flat and level. Often an officer\'s report will state the exercises were performed on a \"flat and level surface.\" However, it is often a good idea to investigate the precise location despite what is in the officer\'s report and despite what might look like a flat and level surface in the DUI video. A great way to investigate is simply to put a tennis ball on the surface where the DUI investigation took place. To the surprise of many people the tennis ball starts to roll away indicating the surface was not flat and level.
Daniel Rosenberg and Michael Dye are Florida DUI attorneys practicing law in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida. For more information, please visit their websites at and