The last thing you want to see in your rear-view mirror while you’re driving home after a night out with friends is a set of flashing red and blue lights. You might feel your blood pressure start to rise as soon you glimpse at those lights because you know it means you’re being pulled over in a Florida traffic stop. Especially if you had glass of wine or beer at dinner, you might be worried about being suspected of DUI.
If a police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, it’s a probable sign that you’re under suspicion for impaired driving. After you show your driver’s license and vehicle registration to the police officer, he or she might ask you to take a walk-and-turn test. This is a field sobriety test that typically involves nine steps along a straight line. If you fail, you might go to jail, at least temporarily.
Exactly how does a walk-and-turn test work?
If you simply had to walk at your normal gait to take a walk-and-turn test, it probably wouldn’t be so challenging. However, a police officer who suspects you of drunk driving is checking for several issues during a field sobriety test. First, he or she wants to see if you have the ability to correctly carry out a series of simple instructions. This is why he or she may instruct you to walk with arms extended outward at shoulder length.
You might also receive instructions to take a certain number of steps, placing the heel of one foot at the toe of the other, each time. In some cases, the patrol officer might ask you to do an about face and repeat the entire test in the opposite direction. If you mess up on the instructions or stumble or waiver while you’re walking, you might fail the test.
What happens if you fail a walk-and-turn test?
When a police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop on suspicion of impaired driving, the officer must have probable cause to make a DUI arrest. If you score a failing grade on a walk-and-turn test, or any other type of field sobriety test, it constitutes probable cause to make an arrest.
Of course, the officer will have been observing you the entire time. He or she might smell alcohol on your breath or think that your eyes look bloodshot. (You might have allergies, but that wouldn’t matter in the moment.) If a Florida police officer believes that he or she has established probable cause to take you into custody for suspected DUI, your evening might end with you calling your spouse or another family member to ask them to post bail.
The sooner you reach out for support, the better
It might be weeks or even months from the time of your DUI arrest until your case is fully adjudicated. The type of defense you present may have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome of your case.
Questions, such as whether you should plead guilty or what to do if you know you’re 100% innocent are best answered through legal consultation. Especially if it’s your first DUI offense, there may be several options available to help mitigate your circumstances.