DUI Field Sobriety Tests In West Palm Beach
In DUI and BUI cases, there are two types of sobriety tasks. There are field sobriety tasks that are performed on scene when the person who is pulled over is initially suspected of a DUI or a BUI. The second type is a Breathalyzer test, commonly referred to as a breath test.
Before a driver is arrested for DUI or BUI, an officer usually asks the driver to perform field sobriety tests. This will occur whenever an officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance. Field sobriety tests generally consist of five exercises: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, one-leg stand, finger to nose and Romberg alphabet. These exercises are entirely voluntary and the driver is not required to perform them. Officers use these tasks to gather evidence against the driver that will later be used in court against the driver after a DUI or BUI arrest has been made.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus, commonly referred to as HGN, is when the officer holds a pen light in front of a driver’s eyes and asks the driver to follow the pen light with his or her eyes. The officer moves the pen light and watches the driver’s eyes for involuntary movement. Officers look for involuntary movement of the eyes, as they are taught that this is a sign of impairment caused by the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances.
The walk and turn is an exercise that involves the driver walking a series of small steps down a straight line, turning, and walking a series of small steps back. Officers look for several clues of potential impairment, namely the inability to follow directions, walk on the line without stumbling or inability to follow instructions.
The one-leg stand is an exercise that has a person lift one leg up in the air to a 30-second count. The officer gives specific instructions on how to hold the leg off the ground, and what to do if the foot touches the ground before 30 seconds elapse. The officer is looking for the drivers’ inability to follow instructions, count, hold their leg off the ground and maintain balance.
The finger to nose test is exactly as its name suggests. The drivers are told to tilt their heads back, close their eyes and call out a hand (right or left) for the driver to touch the tip of the nose with the index finger. Here, the officer is looking for the driver’s inability to touch the index finger precisely on the tip of the nose, as well as the driver’s overall balance.
The Romberg alphabet is an exercise where the officer has the driver recite the alphabet from A to Z in a non-singing, non-rhythmic manner. The officer is looking for the inability of the driver to follow instructions, correctly recite the alphabet without pausing and maintain balance.
Once a driver is arrested in Palm beach County for DUI, he or she is transported to the Breath Alcohol Testing Center. Here, the driver is recorded and asked to provide a breath sample. If the driver refuses to provide a breath sample, the officer is required to read what is referred to as “Implied Consent.” Implied Consent states that if the driver refuses to provide a breath sample, his or her license can be suspended for a period of 12 months for a first refusal. If the driver has been charged with DUI in the past, and refuses a Breathalyzer, that suspension is 18 months. Additionally, if it’s the second or subsequent refusal to provide a breath sample, the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor for refusing to provide a breath sample. Implied consent for a BUI is significantly different from a DUI.
It is important to note that if a breath test is refused, it does not automatically result in a driver’s license suspension. The suspension may be challenged through a formal review hearing with the DMV. Moreover, the driver may be eligible for a hardship license to drive for work purposes. These driver’s license issues associated with a DUI can be very complicated and you should contact an attorney to fully understand the details.