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Are roadside breath tests required in Florida?

Most people cooperate when they pulled over by a police officer and do everything the police officer asks them to do. However, there are times when it is better to politely refuse.

One example is when a police officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test. Tests such as the walk and turn, the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze, and counting or reciting the alphabet backwards can be more than embarrassing. They can provide incriminating evidence in a DUI case.

Don't I have to take a field sobriety test?

No. In Florida, you are not required to take the field sobriety test or even a breath test until you have been arrested and read the implied consent notice. Even then, you should contact an attorney to find out whether you should take a test.

Field sobriety tests are difficult to perform whether you are legally intoxicated or not. You may be asked to perform these tests under stressful conditions: at night, on the side of the road when other cars are speeding by, and with an intimidating person giving you instructions. A video of you failing the test can be powerful evidence in a jury trial. Jurors may not know that the test was designed for you to fail.

If you are stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving, you should not make any admissions (such as "I had a couple of beers". Nor should you take any tests until you have spoken to a lawyer. The penalties for drunk driving are extremely harsh in Florida, so it is important not to do anything that can incriminate you.

Learn more about Florida's DUI laws.

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