Being pulled over for a sudden sobriety test is something many drivers often find themselves dealing with.
In Texas, law enforcement officers may require drivers to submit to 3 standardized field sobriety tests, which typically includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test.
Under Texan law, field sobriety tests are not mandatory for drivers to partake in. This means that if an officer pulls a motorist over, they cannot force the victim to take these tests. However, it is important to remember that if a law enforcer believes them to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can arrest the person in question under probable cause and suspicion.
Declining Field Sobriety Tests
When it comes to navigating the grey space around field sobriety tests in Texas (or anywhere else in the US), there are a few important things drivers should remember:
Drivers can legally refuse field sobriety tests without fear of repercussions.
Plaintiffs have the right to remain silent (under the Fifth Amendment) and not answer any of the officer's questions.
Victims do not have to submit to walking a straight line or any other physical tests requested, although they should remain courteous and polite if asked to do so.
Even if suspected automobilists do submit to a field sobriety test, they should know that the police officer may still have probable cause to arrest them based on other factors, including behavior.
Drivers in Texas need to know their rights and take the proper steps to protest any of their privileges being violated. During DUI tests, plaintiffs should remember to remain calm, contact a top DWI lawyer, and understand their rights before being pressured into revealing anything to the police.
Are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Mandatory in Texas?
Texas law enforcement officers are very strict when it comes to enforcing DUI pullovers. This means it's important to know the laws, particularly when it comes to standardized field sobriety tests.
These tests, which have been adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test.
In Texas, refusing to take a field sobriety test, especially under probable cause, will likely result in an automatic suspension of the individual's driver's license. This suspension can last up to six months and will lead to the driver having to submit to a blood test, which could ultimately result in a charge of driving under the influence unless proven otherwise. The Sparks Law Firm can help determine if a DWI blood test can be wrong.
A field sobriety test is typically not mandatory in Texas. However, they do play an important role in the detection of impaired driving and refusal to take a test may lead to serious consequences.
As such, for drivers pulled over by an officer, it's always important to cooperate, listen to instructions, and do their best to pass the test. On the other hand, remaining silent and contacting an attorney immediately is also a smart way to navigate such a stressful situation.
Can Law Officers Arrest Drivers Over DWI Field Sobriety Tests?
Many drivers may question if a police officer can arrest them just because of their performance on a DWI field sobriety test.
It is important to understand that police officers can use the results of sobriety tests in Texas as evidence of high blood alcohol concentration levels to determine if they can make an arrest based on probable cause.
Police officers may also rely on their own observations and reactions of the driver to make an arrest, even if the driver passed the field sobriety tests.
If the officer noticed signs of intoxication or saw the driver having trouble following the instruction to perform a simple walk-and-turn test, they may form a suspicion that the driver could be intoxicated or impaired and proceed with an arrest.
Taking a Texas Field Sobriety Test Without Drinking
Undergoing a standard field sobriety test without drinking is a stressful situation and requires an understanding of the law and the process, and a good handle on emotions.
Following the directions of the officers, being respectful, and holding oneself accountable is essential if drivers want to have any chance of making it through the test without any suspicion of intoxication. Staying calm and composed is the best plan of action, no matter the outcome.
What Are the Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
Drivers should keep in mind that while the SFSTs are reliable, they are not always 100% accurate.
Standard field sobriety testing is only used as an indicator of one's level of intoxication. Failing the SFSTs does not necessarily mean that the person is guilty, and those who administered the tests have the right to refuse.
The first test requires drivers to walk nine steps in a straight line. During the process, the officer will provide instructions and ask the suspects to follow them. Law enforcers might also ask drivers to place one foot in front of the other and count the steps out loud.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
This second test requires participants to look at an object, such as a finger or pen, and the officer will monitor the driver's ability to track the object with their eyes. The law enforcer will measure the likelihood of their eyes jerking when their gaze is diverted for more than 45 degrees.
One-leg Stand Test
The third standardized field sobriety test is the one-leg stand test. This requires the driver to stand on one leg, with the other foot raised approximately six inches off the ground, and count out loud until told to stop.
An officer will measure the participant's ability to maintain their balance as well as physical coordination and mental attention.
The best way to avoid any involvement with the standardized field sobriety tests is to not drink and drive. However, for those unfortunate situations where a breath test or DWI conviction is unavoidable, it's best to remain silent and contact a DWI attorney immediately.
Qualified lawyers can provide a free consultation to drivers accused of DWI charges and help the victims prove their innocence in court.