Field Sobriety Tests
When a person is intoxicated while driving, arresting officers are permitted by Texas law to perform a field sobriety test. This test is used to determine whether a driver has been drinking, and it’s designed to help them better understand the level of intoxication they’re working with when they make a traffic stop. These tests are designed to specifically enforce DWI laws, and they’re not to be taken lightly.
There are three steps to a basic field sobriety test. The first is balance, the second is attention level, and the third is physical ability. An officer will watch a suspect on the side of the road to take note of all three things as a way of providing them with a general idea whether a person is intoxicated or not. The standardized field sobriety test is a little more specific.
This is where an officer will ask a suspect to perform three tasks.
-Horizontal gaze nystagmus – this is when a person’s eyes jerk involuntarily when vision is moved from side to side. The officer will ask a suspect to follow an object they move through the air to see if this occurs.
-Walk and turn – this is to see if someone is able to walk and turn without falling over, tripping, or weaving. Someone intoxicated is more likely to fail this test.
-One-leg stand – this is self-explanatory, and it means just what it sounds like. Suspects are required to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.
None of these tests are a foolproof manner of indicating intoxication, but they are almost always an indicator. Some people with specific health issues or even those who have balance issues will fail these tests but pass additional blood or breath tests. This is just a way for officers to determine if one or the other is necessary.
If a field sobriety test is not properly issued, you might be able to have your charges dropped. It’s imperative you speak with an attorney right away.