Houston Field Sobriety Test Lawyer
So you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of (DWI) Driving While Intoxicated. Now, you are trying to decide what you should do. What can you expect from the officer that pulled you over? What does a field sobriety test involve, and what are the risks of failure? Do you have to take the test? Should you? Below, the seasoned and effective Texas DWI defense lawyer at Ayson Law Firm discusses what you can expect from Houston field sobriety tests and how you should handle being pulled over in Texas.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are the behavioral, non-chemical tests that a police officer or highway patrol officer might ask you to perform after pulling you over in a traffic stop. Breathalyzer and blood tests are another matter, and you should carefully consider whether agreeing to those tests would be in your best interests. Regardless of whether you pass or fail the field sobriety test or refuse to take it at all, if an officer suspects you are driving while intoxicated, they are likely to go ahead and request a breath or blood test.
There are a few different field sobriety tests that law enforcement officers in Texas are likely to employ before whipping out the breathalyzer. These tests include:
“Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus” (HGN) Test. The HGN test involves an officer observing the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object horizontally with their eyes. Typically, officers will ask suspects to follow a pen or small flashlight with just their eyes. The officer is checking to see if the suspect’s eyes are unable to follow the object, or if their eyes are jerking rather than following smoothly.
“Walk the Line” Test. This is probably the most famous field sobriety test, historically. You have likely seen this performed on many TV shows. The test involves an officer asking the driver to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other. Often, the suspect will be asked to walk to the end of a line, turn, and walk back. They may use parking spot paint or shoulder markings as the line in question. The officer is looking to see if the driver is unable to follow the line without stumbling or falling. Of course, many people may stumble or trip out of anxiety or nerves at the prospect of going to jail, regardless of their sobriety.
The “One Leg Stand” Test. Law enforcement may also ask you to stand on one leg for 30 seconds, often while counting out loud. This test, again, is meant to test your balance. If you put a leg down before the end of 30 seconds or fall over, then the officer will use that as evidence that you were intoxicated. And again, many people can easily fail this test because of nerves or because they simply lack the balance or leg strength necessary to stay upright on one leg for 30 seconds. It is very inaccurate when it comes to testing for intoxication.
Can You, and Should You, Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
The short answer is: Yes. The police cannot force you to undergo a field sobriety test in most cases. If you fail a field sobriety test, they will use that failure as probable cause that you were driving while intoxicated. They can then use that probable cause to detain you and even search your vehicle without your consent. Moreover, they are likely to request a blood, breath, or urine test either at the site of your arrest or later at the station.
Although refusing to take a field sobriety test may be used as evidence against you, it does not give the government the power to revoke your license in the way that refusing a blood or breath test does. A field sobriety test will simply allow the officer to collect more evidence against you. They are often inaccurate and rely in large part on the perception (and testimony) of the officer conducting the test. If you do pass a field sobriety test, the officer might still claim suspicion and request a blood or breath test.
Generally, we advise against submitting to field sobriety tests. If you are perfectly sober, you might as well go straight to a breathalyzer or blood test and prove it definitively, instead of possibly giving the officers inaccurate evidence against you and giving them additional power. If you are concerned about whether you are close to the legal limit, taking a field sobriety test just gives the officer more evidence against you. While you should use your judgment in your individual circumstances, field sobriety tests are generally not worth the trouble.
If you did take and fail a field sobriety test, you could still fight your charges. An experienced and talented Houston DWI defense lawyer can help.
Fight Your Houston DWI Charges
If you have been arrested for DWI or DUI in Harris County, reach out to a knowledgeable and effective Houston field sobriety test lawyer as soon as possible. Your driver’s license, your rights, and your freedom may be on the line. Call the Ayson Law Firm today for a free consultation about your Houston DWI charges.