As a Daytona Beach DUI lawyer and former Volusia County DUI prosecutor Kevin Pitts has handled hundreds of Central Florida DUIs. I previously posted about the stop the detention is the second phase. The police need three indicators of impairment to request field sobriety exercises based upon the Origi v. State. standard. Indicators that frequently appear in police reports are odor of alcohol, blood shot eyes, glassy/glossy eyes, fumbling or fidgeting with paperwork, thick tongued and slurred speech. Driving can be considered an additional indicator in some cases. Police almost always say they smell alcohol and odor is difficult to rebut because it is not preserved.
Make sure your documents are organized. You might want to get your license, registration and insurance card in a separate wallet and place it in a readily accessible area while driving. The officers will time you, watch if you pass over a document and if you give them an expired version that also considered an indicator of impairment. If you are unorganized you could easily be 1/3 of the way to being asked to perform field sobriety exercises. Organize your documents, talk as little as possible and refuse the voluntary field sobriety exercises. Why should you refuse the voluntary field sobriety exercises? The standard exercises are the walk and turn, one leg stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). The finger to nose is often added. The HGN is rarely admissible because the officer has to be a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Some case law says that training plus hundreds or thousands of DUI investigations might be enough to testify about the HGN.
The three exercises are designed to observe indicators of impairment. You can show 2 indicators on each exercise before the cop can consider the performance of the exercise sufficient to arrest you. That sounds easy but when you hear what an indicator is you will understand why the optional exercises should not be performed. This is especially true on cases without video. On the finger to nose if you touch your nose with the pad of your finger you have demonstrated an indicator of impairment. If you do not immediately return your hand to your side after touching your nose it is considered another indicator of impairment. That would be a failure and you would be 1/3 of the way to being arrested. On the walk and turn if you start before the officer is completely done and raise your hands more than six inches for balance you fail. On the one leg stand if you sway and put your foot down or raise your hands over six inches for balance you have failed all three exercises. Making it through without stumbling is not enough to avoid arrest. You must follow every tiny detail to prevent arrest. The third phase will be soon. Information provided by Daytona Beach DUI attorney Kevin Pitts.