Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Austin, Texas DWI / DUI Attorneys When an officer stops you for suspected drunk driving, he or she will typically administer standard field sobriety tests to help determine whether you are intoxicated. There are several of these tests in use today – and unfortunately, none of them is without fault.

If you performed poorly on a sobriety test and have been charged with drunk driving, then you need the Austin, TX DWI defense attorneys at Minton, Burton, Bassett, & Collins, P.C. Do not risk your freedom and your future. Call us today at (512) 476-4873 or contact us via email. We have helped clients charged with DWIs or DUIs in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, Caldwell, Burnet and Comal counties. We can help you.

Field sobriety tests include:

Horizontal Nystagmus Test
In this test, the officer will ask you to follow his or her pen with your eyes. The premise of the test is that your eyes have a natural shaking action, known as nystagmus. If you are intoxicated, that shakiness is visually apparent by someone observing your eye movements – and if you are not intoxicated, the officer shouldn't be able to discern the nystagmus.

There are two major flaws inherent in this test – first, not all officers are properly trained in order to take accurate readings. Second, certain eye conditions may produce false positive results – people with "lazy eye," for example, may have eye movements that don't conform to the test, and officers may mistake different eye motion for an indication of intoxication.

Walk & Turn Test
In this test, the officer will ask you to walk heel to toe for 9 steps in one direction and then 9 steps in the opposite direction, counting out loud while making a specific type of turn. The premise behind this test is that an intoxicated person may be able to perform one task without error, but executing multiple tasks such as walking, counting and turning, will not be possible for someone who is drunk. Police officers are supposed to consult 8 specific clues to determine whether your performance of the walk & turn test indicates intoxication.

Again, there are two major flaws with this test – an officer may not fully understand how to administer the test, and he or she may provide confusing instructions that throw off the performance of the driver. Also, this test requires good balance and concentration – two criteria not everyone possesses even when perfectly sober. Add in the fear and anxiety of being pulled over on the side of the road, and many people will fail this test regardless of alcohol consumption.

One Leg Stand Test
In this test, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg while keeping the other leg more than 6 inches off the ground and counting to 30. The officer is supposed to look for 4 specific clues that will indicate you are intoxicated while performing this test. This is another example of a test in which a person's poor sense of balance and nervousness could easily skew the results even if alcohol is not involved.

Officers may administer other tests, such as asking you to recite the alphabet, but the three listed above are most commonly used. All three may produce results that simply aren't accurate – but they can be damaging testimony if you are charged with a DWI.

The attorneys at Minton, Burton, Bassett, & Collins often contest the results of field sobriety tests based upon multiple reasons, including:

  • Officers are not trained medical professionals and thus are not qualified or capable of accurately performing eye tests.
  • True eye tests measure eye movement to a specific degree and police officers are taking estimates, which may not be accurate.
  • Most doctors do not accept eye tests as a valid indication of intoxication.
  • Other tests require mental and physical abilities that you may not possess due to medical conditions, stress and physical stature.

If you have been charged with a DWI or a DUI based upon a failed field sobriety test, don't let inaccurate testing methods ruin your future. If you or a family member has been charged with a DWI, you have 15 days from the date the arresting officer serves you with a notice of suspension to request a hearing to contest the suspension or your license will be suspended. Usually, the deadline to request a hearing is 15 days after your DWI arrest.

Contact the Texas drunk driving attorneys at MBFC now by calling (512) 476-4873 or contact us via email. We will defend your rights and reputation.

We have 45 years of experience representing clients in Austin, TX and the surrounding communities, including: Travis County (Creedmoor, Elroy, Manor, Pflugerville); Williamson County (Cedar Park, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, Florence, Leander, Round Rock, Taylor); Hays County (Buda, Dripping Springs, Kyle, San Marcos, Wimberley); Bastrop County (Bastrop, Clearview, Elgin, Rockne, Smithville); Caldwell County (Lockhart, Luling); Burnet County (Bertram, Burnet, Marble Falls); and Comal County (Bulverde, Canyon Lake, Gruene, New Braunfels, Sattler, Startzville).

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