Field Sobriety Tests in Texas
Sugar Land DWI Attorney Helping You Fight Conviction
Field sobriety testing is one of the forms of testing that law enforcement officers use when they are trying to determine whether a driver is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. There are three different types of field sobriety tests that are given. These include the One-Leg Stand, the Walk-and-Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN testing).
During these tests, the person suspected of impaired driving is asked to follow various instructions involving certain physical tasks. The officers are trained to look for specific signs that are supposed to indicate intoxication. If the driver fails these field sobriety tests, it is highly likely that the individual will be arrested for an alleged driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense.
While field sobriety testing has long been used as evidence in DWI cases, there are actually many flaws to this type of testing. By turning to our law firm, Stornello Law Firm, P.C., you can work with a Sugar Land criminal defense attorney who can help you challenge your test results and your drunk driving charges.
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Understanding the Three Different Field Sobriety Tests
Here is an overview of what each of the three types of field sobriety tests entail, as outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
One-Leg Stand—The individual is instructed to stand on one foot, with the other foot raised about six inches above the ground. The person is required to count aloud slowly until instructed to lower his/her raised foot. Loss of balance is considered by the officer to be a sign of impairment.
Walk-and-Turn—The individual is required to walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe, for a certain number of steps. The person must then turn on one foot and walk in the same manner in the other direction. The officer looks for signs such as loss of balance, failure to take the correct number of steps and failure to walk heel-to-toe.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus—With this test, the officer takes an object (such as a pen or flashlight) and moves it horizontally in front of the person being tested. The test taker is asked to follow the object with his or her eyes. There are three key outcomes that are considered to be signs of impairment. These include the test taker's difficulty following the object smoothly with his or her gaze, exaggerated jerking of the eye at maximum deviation (or at the point farthest from center) and jerking of the eye that starts within 45 degrees of the person's point of center.
Common Defenses Against Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety testing is problematic because of the fact that there are so many factors other than impairment that can lead to a test failure. For example, a person could lose his or her balance, take the wrong number of steps or walk in the wrong manner because of nervousness, uneven terrain, a physical disability or injury or just a lack of coordination. If the officer did not correctly administer this test, this is also an issue that will need to be addressed. To learn more about DWI cases, read our FAQ page.
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