Police officers use a variety of techniques to determine whether motorists may be driving while intoxicated. One of these techniques is to request that drivers perform field sobriety tests, which are designed to help identify impairment by alcohol or drugs. Field sobriety tests in Dallas DWI cases can lead to law enforcement officers finding probable cause to arrest drivers on DWI charges.
Field sobriety tests are not fool-proof, however, and they may not be an accurate measure of blood alcohol content (BAC) or impairment due to drugs or alcohol. A criminal defense lawyer could examine the circumstances surrounding your arrest and testing and help craft a defense strategy tailored to your situation.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in Dallas
Law enforcement officers in most states utilize a battery of standardized field sobriety tests in traffic stops when they suspect that drivers are impaired. Officers typically use all three tests to help determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a DWI arrest. These tests usually include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One-Legged Stand test.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
During this test, officers slowly move a flashlight or pen in a horizontal direction in front of the eyes of drivers. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures whether their eyes move appropriately when following visual stimuli. However, the results of these tests can be subjective and not always indicative of impairment by drugs or alcohol.
Walk and Turn
Officers will request that drivers take nine steps walking heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn, and repeat the exercise in the other direction. Officers will consider whether drivers walked continuously and in a straight line, took the correct number of steps, maintained their balance, completely touched their toe to heel during each step, turned properly, and walked with their arms outstretched for balance.
During the one-legged stand test, drivers must stand on one leg with the toe pointed and the foot six inches off the ground. Drivers then must remain in this position while counting aloud for 30 seconds. Hopping, placing the raised foot on the ground, swaying, or raising arms to the side for balance all may be indicative of impairment.
Consequences of Field Sobriety Tests in Traffic Stops
Officers who administer field sobriety tests during traffic stops will consider whether drivers “passed” or “failed” these tests. Based on these results and other evidence, the officers determine whether to release the driver from the stop, perhaps ticketing them for a minor traffic violation, or request that they take a breathalyzer test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC).
Many drivers understand that if they refuse to take a BAC test, they will be subject to an automatic license suspension. However, drivers will not be subject to a license suspension for refusing to participate in field sobriety tests. In deciding whether to undergo field sobriety testing a Dallas DWI case, it is helpful to understand the pros and cons.
On the one hand, if drivers are not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs, taking the field sobriety tests may resolve the traffic stop quickly. On the other hand, if drivers have consumed any amount of alcohol, they could be providing the prosecution with additional evidence of impairment. Additionally, refusing to take the field sobriety tests could still result in drivers being arrested on reasonable suspicion of DWI, or at least being asked to submit to a breathalyzer test.
Dallas Field Sobriety Tests in DWI Cases
Field sobriety tests are not always reliable, but the prosecution in a Dallas DWI case still may be able to use their results as evidence against you as evidence. As a result, drivers may be wise to refrain from taking field sobriety tests without first consulting with experienced legal counsel.
Having legal guidance throughout your DWI proceedings can be highly beneficial. You may be able to raise a strong defense fight for a favorable resolution of the charges against you.