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What are some different types of sobriety tests?

Drivers in Florida are subject to an implied consent law. This means that as soon as you drive, you are implying that you've given your consent to police to test your blood alcohol content levels if they put you under arrest for reasonable suspicion of driving while under the influence.

But how to officers get to the point of "reasonable suspicion" in the first place? Usually, officers will determine this through field sobriety tests, if there isn't any visual evidence that drinking has occurred (like alcohol bottles being present in the vehicle). The News Wheel states that there are primarily five types of sobriety tests which are used by officers to determine if they have enough reason to place you under arrest. This includes:

  • Placing your finger to your nose
  • Walking in a straight line and turning
  • Nystagmus
  • Rhomberg balance test
  • Balancing on one leg

They all have to do with visible coordinating and concentrating abilities. Some, like being able to put your finger to your nose or balancing on one leg, are easy tells. If you sway, become distracted, or can't actually touch your nose or hold your balance, officers will take it as a sign of potential intoxication.

The nystagmus test involves following a finger, pencil, or other object as it's moved back and forward in front of your face. Being unable to smoothly follow the motion is generally indicative of intoxication. As for the Rhomberg balance test, this involves attempting to estimate the passage of 30 seconds with your eyes closed to check for time distortion.

Any of these tests, if failed, can lead to officers having enough suspicion to arrest you. From there, you will be required to take a standard blood alcohol content test, such as a breathalyzer.

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