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Field Sobriety Tests in TAMPA, FLORIDA

In Tampa, Florida, there are three (3) standardized field sobriety tests that Tampa police and Hillsborough Coujnty deputies use. These tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand The standardized field sobriety tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is also responsible for providing training for the law enforcement officers who administer the tests. It is important to remember that field sobriety tests can be inaccurate. Many things can cause a person to fail a FST aside from being under the influence such as: poor coordination, poor weather conditions, inadequate lighting, or poor instruction from the officer.

FIRST – The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (The “eye test”)

Horizontal gaze nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of a persons eyeball. If a person is under the influence of alcohol, it is believed that he/she will have a difficult time following an object with his/her eyes. When the officer administers the nystagmus test, he/she will ask the suspect to follow the tip of a pen or a finger while he/she moves the object back and forth. If the suspect cant follow the object, or if the officer notices that the suspects eyes are involuntarily jerking, the officer may have reason to believe the suspect is intoxicated.

SECOND – The Walk and Turn

The walk and turn is considered a divided attention test. The Tampa police officer is testing whether you have the ability to understand instructions and perform the test according to his instructions. During the walk and turn test, the suspect will be instructed to take 9 heel-to-toe steps down a marked line, stop after 9 steps, pivot on the left foot, and then take 9 more heel-to-toe steps back in the opposite direction. While the person performs this test, the officer will watch to see if the suspect follows instructions, counts out loud, stays on the line, remains on the line and maintains balance.

THIRD – The One-Leg Stand

The one-leg stand is another divided attention test. During the one-leg stand test, the person will be instructed to stand on one foot while raising the other foot approximately 6 inches off of the ground. The person will then be asked to count out loud until instructed to stop. While the suspect performs this test, the officer will watch to see if the suspect puts his/her foot down before instructed, struggles with balance, or hops to maintain balance.


In some circumstances, the Tampa police officer may request that you perform other standardized field sobriety excercises, most likely because he or she maybe unsure as to your level of impairment. These tests may be the alphabet test, the finger to nose test or counting backwards from 100-79.


Once a person is suspected of DUI, the Tampa police officer will typically ask the person to perform a variety of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Field Sobriety Tests are considered voluntary in the state of Florida, which means that the person may or may not choose to consent to them. These tests are administered by law enforcement to gauge the suspects level of intoxication and also to establish probable cause for arrest. Because FSTs are not an exact science and are based ont he subjective analysis of the officer, there are many challenges that can be made to their reliability.


Oftentimes there are videotapes from the dashcam of the officer’s car. Tampa Police officers routinely use their on board cameras during a DUI arrest as do the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies. These videos are provided to us from the State Attorney through the discovery process. The videos often provide the best evidence of impairment, or lack thereof, and can be a very important negotiating tool with the state attorney’s office.

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If you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa, Florida be sure to contact one of our Tampa DUI attorneys immediately. At Finebloom & Haenel, we offer a free consultation to discuss your specific case.


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