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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Balancing tests are often used as part of so-called field sobriety tests. If you are stopped under suspicion of DWI you may be asked to undertake these tests at the place where you were pulled over by the side of the highway. In Texas you are not required by law to undertake these tests during a DUI stop.
However, you may feel intimidated and simply perform them because you think you have to. You should think twice before performing them as they are not truly scientific and have been developed as a way of ensuring that DWI convictions are maximized.
Difficulty of DUI Sobriety Tests
Balancing tests are not simple to perform, whether a person is intoxicated or not. One common balancing test is when you are required to walk in a straight line and make a turn. This is not something which you would try to do every day, especially in the dark when you may be nervous, so suddenly being asked to do it by a police officer can be difficult for many people.
The same applies to standing for 30 seconds on one leg. This is not what the police officer who stops you has been led to believe. He or she has been told that unless a person does suffer considerably from back or leg problems there should be no problem in satisfactorily undertaking these tests during a DWI stop, unless, of course, the person is intoxicated.
Limits of DWI Testing
There are many circumstances where failure to complete these tests satisfactorily by a sober person could take place. One of which could be when recovering from illness when the legs may be a bit weak and cannot be coordinated well. Having physical problems with the base of the feet is also another reason why coordination could be affected and balancing tests could be hard to undertake.
Mental health conditions may affect a person’s ability to perform as well during a DUI stop. There are some conditions such as ADHD that can cause erratic behavior so a police officer may assume the person is intoxicated if he or she strays away from the imaginary line.
None of the possible physical or mental conditions that could affect the way a person performs these tests is normally considered by a law enforcement officer. It just comes down to one conclusion. If you have failed the balancing test during a DWI stop, then you must be drunk and will, therefore, be charged and arrested.
Building a DWI Defense
There is a positive side to all this. If you have failed a balancing test and are then charged with DWI with little other evidence, then the test results can be challenged in court by your DWI lawyer. You will only be finally convicted if the evidence used proves beyond reasonable doubt that you were DWI at the time you were stopped.
Likewise, your attorney will ensure that you get the best defense if you are charged with DWI based on these unscientific results. Even blood alcohol tests taken at a police station may not always be reliable. In some circumstances, the results of these tests can be shown to be as useless as the balancing tests.
At the moment no balance test reliable enough to prove intoxication exists so anyone suspected of DWI should refuse to perform them.