Field Sobriety Tests

Houston DWI Attorney

After being pulled over under suspicion of DWI, a police officer will check to see if your breath smells like alcohol, your eyes appear bloodshot or if your speech is slurred. If an officer reasonably believes that you might be drunk, he/she will have you perform field sobriety tests. You can legally refuse to take field sobriety tests without facing any penalty, however, you will be arrested and police officers might argue that this situation is incriminating. The three tests recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are:

The Walk-and-Turn Test

  • You will be required to place your left foot on the line and your right foot on the line ahead of your left toe, with the heel of your right foot against the toe of your left foot. You will have to keep your arms at your side. Once you are told to begin you must take 9 heel-to-toe steps, turn and take 9 heel-to-toe steps back.
  • The officer will check to see if you keep your balance, start before instructions are finished, stop while walking, do not touch heel-to-toe, step off the line, use arms for balance, turn improperly or complete an incorrect number of steps.

The One-Legged Stand Test

  • You will be required to stand with your feet together and with your arms at your side. When told to start, you will have to raise your leg approximately 6 inches off the ground while keeping your foot pointed out. You will have to count, keep both legs straight and your arms at your side until told to stop.
  • The officer will check to see if you sway while balancing, if you use your arms for balance, if you hop or if you put your foot down. The text can last no longer than 30 seconds.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

  • The officer will use an object, such as a pen or other stimulus and pass the object in front of your face back and forth to see if your eyes jerk more than normal.
  • The officer will check to see if your eyes "bounce" as they follow a smoothly running stimulus, if distinct nystagmus is evident when the eye is held at maximum deviation for a minimum of four seconds, and at what point the eye is first seen jerking.

Factors that can Influence Accuracy

Our Houston DWI attorneys know that these types of tests can easily show false "results," as they do not test actual alcohol content in the body. They are purely physical tasks in which poor performance could be attributed to various factors other than alcohol consumption, such as:

  • Do you have any injuries to your back, legs, knees or feet?
  • Do you have any balance problems, middle ear problems or vertigo?
  • Are you overweight or elderly?
  • Were you wearing heels?
  • Was the testing done on a slippery, not well-lit surface?

If police officers failed to give you the proper instructions or failed to follow the proper procedures, the results of your tests can be dismissed as evidence. For more information, contact a Houston DWI attorney at The Martinez Law Firm today!

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