TESTING FOR DRUNK DRIVERS OR AT LEAST IMPAIRED
In the State of Florida field sobriety test are not considered test, based on the Florida court ruling in meadors (with the exception of the horizontal gaze nystagmus or the HGN test). Therefore they can not be called test, and are not subject to expert opinion/testimony. Courts have also ruled that a defendant’s performance on these test are not subject to being graded. Since these field sobriety test can not be called tests in court, they are often referred to as field sobriety exercises.
WHAT ARE STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TEST
Most officers who go to DUI training are trained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the NHTSA training manual they teach law enforcement how to do field sobriety tests. These test are often referred to as standardized field sobriety test. Many law enforcement agencies have a policy to perform all field sobriety test in accordance with NHTSA. However there is no blanket rule that an officer must follow NHTSA when performing field sobriety test.
HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS (HGN)
The HGN test is actually a scientific test. Therefore it is subject to expert testimony in the form of the opinion. However in order for a witness to testify as to the results of the HGN they must first show the court 1) that they are qualified to administer the test; 2) that they in fact properly administered the test. Often times the defendant can successfully challenge the HGN test.
WHAT DO THE FIELD SOBRIETY TEST PROVE
The defendant’s performaance on the field sobriety test is just one factor (although it can be a strong factor) to consider in determining whether a defendant is impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance. There are other things that will affect a person’s performance on these test such as the defendant’s age, physicality, injuries, or illness. A person’s tiredness could also be the cause of poor performance on field sobriety test.