What to Expect During a Field Sobriety Test in Houston, TX

You’re heading home from a night out in Houston when you hear those familiar sirens and see flashing lights. The police have pulled you over and although you believe you’re sober, an officer claims to smell alcohol. As you step out of the car, the officer asks if you consent to take a field sobriety test.

Even if you only had one drink, you may begin to panic. You may wonder about if you can refuse the test or if you’ll go to jail if you fail. Field sobriety tests are pretty much designed to make you fail. However, understanding the process and acting appropriately can make a big difference in what happens to you.

Ask a DWI Attorney in Houston: How Many Types of Texas Field Sobriety Tests Are There?

The police use sobriety tests to help them determine whether you are intoxicated. They may first ask you if you’ve been drinking or where you’re coming from. Despite what they may tell you, you don’t have to answer these questions. You should, however, give your name and address. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test is comprised of three components.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

This test is also known as the flashlight test. The officer will move a flashlight or pen in a horizontal line and ask that you follow it with your eyes. They will watch to see if your eyes jerk. This test is not reliable since the officers are not trained by optometrists or ophthalmologists. There is also no set standard for many times your eyes must jerk or how far.

Walk and Turn

The police officer will ask you to walk nine steps in a straight line and a heel-to-toe fashion. They will then ask you to turn and do it in the other direction. This seems simple enough if you don’t know what the officer is looking for. You will be graded on whether you:

  • Maintain your balance while being given instructions
  • Start walking too soon
  • Walk the right number of steps
  • Step off the line
  • Miss heel to toe by more than half an inch
  • Raise your arms more than six inches from the side
  • Stop while walking
  • Turn “improperly”

If you don’t get any two items right, you fail the test.

One-Legged Stand

For this test, the officer will ask you to stand with one foot six inches off the ground with your foot pointed and your legs straight. You will have to count out loud for 30 seconds. The police officer will look to see if you sway, drop your foot, hop or raise your arms more than six inches from your side. Again, just two clues are enough to make you fail.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, used together, the three tests can accurately identify intoxication. However, the law doesn’t require that police use all three. You can be deemed intoxicated after just one failed test even though there are several reasons why an individual may fail. Medical problems, side effects of medication and poor coordination skills can all cause you to fail.

How Houston DWI Lawyers Advise Their Clients

Most drivers wonder if they can refuse the tests given these challenges. You have that right but there are pros and cons to refusing. If you haven’t had anything to drink, taking the tests can save you a lot of trouble. However, if you’ve had a few drinks, it may be best to refuse and ask to contact your DWI attorney in Houston.

When you refuse, the prosecution will not have access to video of the field test. Even if you were sober, the footage can be misleading. They will have to rely on the analysis of your blood or breath to prove your intoxication. These tests can be unreliable. The downside to refusing a field sobriety test is that you will likely be arrested on suspicion of DWI.

Contact Eddington and Worley for Assistance Today!

Field sobriety tests are very hard to pass and DWI charges are more complicated than many people think. Some traffic stops are illegal and the police may use improper testing methods to determine you are intoxicated. An experienced DWI lawyer in Houston, TX will assess your case and fight back against the charges if they are problematic.

If you’ve been unfairly accused, our attorneys will work hard to clear your name. If you drove after drinking too much, we’ll do our best to get you the minimum punishment. Call us at Eddington & Worley as soon as possible after your arrest to get the professional representation you deserve.

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