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Field Sobriety Tests

When officers suspect someone is under the influence and driving (DWI) they use a variety of police procedures to determine their impairment level. A common method is to ask the driver to undergo physical and mental exercises that determine your sobriety known as field sobriety tests. Although these tests aren’t usually admissible in court, they are used frequently by both Drug Recognition Expert certified officers and standard law enforcement officers.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI from a field sobriety test, it’s imperative you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. With the right defense, a field sobriety test can easily be dismissed as evidence because it relies heavily on subjectivity rather than concrete science. Don’t wait another moment and get in contact with a qualified and experienced defense lawyer today.

DWI Defense for Field Sobriety Tests in Conroe, Texas

A skilled and experienced attorney can fight any DWI charge involving field sobriety tests. If you need legal representation, call Evans & Powell, PLLC. The defense lawyers at Evans & Powell, PLLC will do whatever necessary to create a sturdy defense for you. We can collect evidence, file motions and discover your legal options so you can move on with your life.

Get in touch with us now at (713) 622 - 2000 to set up your first consultation absolutely free. Our lawyers will set up an appointment with you and sit down to discuss your future defense needs. We practice throughout the greater Conroe area and surrounding cities including Willis, Montgomery, New Caney and Splendora.

Overview of Field Sobriety Tests in Texas


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Standardized and Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in Texas

It’s likely you’ve seen a variety of field sobriety tests either on television, in movies on or the internet. Although all are considered field sobriety tests, only some are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). These tests can sometimes be used as admissible evidence in some courts. Non-standardized field sobriety tests, on the other hand, are nearly always considered inadmissible by court standards

Listed below are the three field sobriety tests that have been standardized by NHTSA.

  • Walk-and-Turn (WAT) – This test is to measure your physical abilities by asking you to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. Once you’re finished, then you must take another nine heel-to-toe steps back. External factors can affect this test such as physical ability, age, and even terrible lighting.
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) – Another test that measures your physical abilities. The officer will ask you to stand on one foot about six inches off the ground. You will then be instructed to count aloud for 30 seconds in the thousands. Many environmental causes can sabotage an OLS test including disability, extreme anxiety and fatigue.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Many aren’t aware that when you’re intoxicated that you may experience the involuntary jerking of the eye known as nystagmus. Police may try to test if your phenomenon by putting an object 12 to 15 inches away from the driver’s eyes. They then will slowly move the object side to side and ask you to track its position with your eyes. If you’re impaired, then your eyes will exhibit the nystagmus. Some factors that could influence this test include loud noises, heavy traffic or bad weather.

Texas officers use all sorts of non-standardized tests. However, nearly none of them would make it to the courtroom as evidence. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Counting numbers backwards;
  • Placing a finger to your nose;
  • Romberg balance test; or
  • Saying your ABC’s backwards

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Issues with Field Sobriety Testing in Texas

You always have a choice whether you’d like to submit or refuse field sobriety testing in Texas. Although some lawyers will suggest you refuse field sobriety testing. The reason for this is because the evidence associated with field sobriety testing is very subjective. One officer may construe your actions as being impaired while another may deem you sober. Not to mention the various factors that could influence how well you perform on these tests.

Listed below are some factors that could cause a sober person to fail a field sobriety test.

  • Age;
  • Prior injuries;
  • Sleep medication;
  • Certain medical conditions;
  • The lighting around the stop;
  • Physical ability;
  • Certain shoes such as flip-flops;
  • Slippery roads;
  • Fatigue;
  • Eye-to-hand coordination;
  • Extreme nerves and anxiety;
  • Improperly given instructions;
  • Allergy medication such as Benadryl;
  • Physical disabilities
  • Inclement weather during the stop;
  • The temperature outside; and
  • Bad balance

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What Happens When You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in Texas?

Many people are confused on whether they are required to take a field sobriety test or not. Fortunately, the answer is yes you can exercise your right to refuse if you’re asked to undergo field sobriety testing. Implied consent laws don’t apply to field sobriety testing. You are only violating implied consent laws if you refuse chemical testing.

Although you aren’t violating implied consent laws, refusing to submit to field sobriety tests can lead to some consequences. A police officer technically doesn’t need a BAC reading or a failed field sobriety test to arrest you. If they have enough probable cause you’re under the influence, then they have the right to lawfully arrest you for driving while intoxicated (DWI). For some law enforcement officers, a refusal to submit to DWI testing is an indicator of guilt and enough probable cause for an arrest.

No one wants to be arrested. However, spending some time in booking and jail doesn’t mean you’ve been charged with DWI. If prosecutors don’t believe there isn’t enough evidence for a conviction, they are likely to drop the charges or press them at all. Having no field sobriety evidence or chemical DWI test evidence makes a weak case. If you refuse, then the district attorney will likely only have subjective eye-witness testimony as evidence from the officer.

This means you may spend a short time in jail, but hopefully you won’t face DWI charges. In addition, if you are charged for DWI then the prosecution will have a feeble case. It will be much easier to fight your charges and have your case dismissed as a result.


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Additional Resources

Instructor Guide to Field Sobriety Testing – Visit the official website of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to learn more about standardized field sobriety testing through their instructor guide. Gain access to the guide for field sobriety testing to learn more about the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizonal gaze nystagmus procedures.

Texas DWI Laws – Visit the official website of Texas Penal Code to find more information surrounding DWI offenses such as license suspensions, DWI classes and alcohol monitoring devices. Access the statutes to learn more about the statutory penalties, admissible defenses, DWI testing specifics and other related offenses.


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Field Sobriety Testing Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County, Texas

If you or someone you know has refused or submitted to field sobriety testing, it’s important you contact a skilled defense lawyer. Hiring an attorney with a background in DWI law can immensely increase your chances of having your case reduced or dismissed. Start planning your defense strategy now by calling the lawyers at Evans & Powell, PLLC.

Our criminal defense lawyers have been practicing law, especially DWI defense, for years. We can assess your case and determine what legal options are available to you. Call us now at (713) 622 - 2000 to set up your first consultation free. Evans & Powell, PLLC accepts clients throughout the greater Montgomery County area including Conroe, Willis, Magnolia, New Caney and Splendora.


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