When a police officer suspects a DUI violation, he usually conducts one or more tests to determine whether the driver is impaired. There are several ways to test a driver’s sobriety, such as Field Sobriety Tests, a Breathalyzer Test and Blood Alcohol Content Tests.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
When you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, the officer starts to look for signs of impairment right away. He’s trying to find proof for reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigation for DUI, such as red or glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol or slow speech. If the officer observes any of these signs of impairment, he can ask you to conduct Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) to attempt to prove that you are impaired.
There many types of field sobriety tests – including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention etc. The police are trying to gather additional evidence but most officers have already made up their minds to make an arrest when they conduct the FSTs. Remember that you are not legally required to take any FSTs.
Many states have begun following the federally-approved (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA) standardized field sobriety tests, such as:
1) horizontal and vertical gaze nystagmus
2) walk and turn on the line
3) raise one leg and count
The question of whether to take a breathalyzer test when you’ve been pulled over for a DUI can be difficult. There is usually some indicator of driving under the influence if the law enforcement officer asks you to blow into the machine.
For a first offense DUI, refusal to take a breathalyzer test could result in a one-year suspension of your license. A second and third offense will result in an 18-month license suspension. A second or third refusal could cause serious consequences, such as jail time.
Blood Alcohol Content Tests (BAC)
If an officer believes you are impaired, they can use certain evidence to support the charge. One of the most common forms of evidence is to look at whether you have alcohol or other chemicals in your system. Florida law requires you to take these tests if you are arrested for a DUI.
In the case of alcohol, law enforcement can determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) using your breath, blood and/or urine. If you are found to have a BAC of 0.08 % or higher, you are presumed by law to be impaired. If you have a BAC of 0.04 % or higher, there is a rebuttable presumption that you are impaired.