If an officer pulls you over because they believe you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’ll likely be asked to perform field sobriety tests, often called roadside sobriety tests. Here’s what you should understand about sobriety tests and if you have the right under Texas law to say no.
What Are Roadside Sobriety Tests?
Roadside sobriety tests are a collection of three tests that are designed to help an officer determine if a driver is intoxicated or not. During the tests, officers are looking for signs of impairment, including slurred speech, poor balance, difficulty remembering test instructions, and more. Here are the three standard roadside sobriety tests used in Texas:
Walk & Turn Test
During a walk and turn test, the officer will usually ask you to walk along a line for ten steps, heel-to-toe. Then, the officer asks you to pivot and walk back along the same line for ten more heel-to-toe steps.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
When a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their eyes may develop temporary nystagmus, or a horizontal “shaking,” especially when looking to the sides. An officer will usually ask you to follow a light or another object with your eyes only, without turning your head.
One-Leg Stand Test
The one-leg stand test involves you elevating your leg in front of you with your foot outward and holding it a short distance above the ground while maintaining your balance on the other leg. This test is performed for several seconds.
Your Right to Decline a Roadside Sobriety Test in Texas
In Texas, you have the right to decline a field sobriety test. Police officers typically won’t offer up that information and may even suggest that you have to take the test. You do legally have to submit to chemical testing (usually with a breathalyzer) or your license will be suspended, but roadside sobriety tests are not included.
It’s typically in your best interest to decline field sobriety testing. There’s no risk your license will be suspended, and chances are high that because the tests are highly subjective and largely inaccurate that the results will not be in your favor.
When Should You Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, don’t wait to contact a criminal defense lawyer. This is especially true if you took a field sobriety test and failed. An attorney can help you challenge the results and validity of sobriety tests. Call Fort Bend DWI lawyer Anthony R. Segura for a consultation today at (281) 240-3941.