Field Sobriety Tests
Challenging the Validity of Results in Denton County
If an officer pulls someone over on suspicion of drunk driving, they may subject that individual to field sobriety tests. Often, the assessments are those developed by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Testing such things as coordination and balance, they are considered to be objective measurements of intoxication. And while officers use the tests to establish probable cause for an arrest, they are not 100% accurate all of the time. If a driver agreed to participate and they “failed,” a skilled defense lawyer may be able to challenge the results based on the specifics of the situation.
Were you subject to field sobriety testing as part of your DWI arrest? If so, our Denton attorneys can review your circumstances and discuss your legal options. At Marsala Law Group, we know various factors could have affected your performance on the field sobriety tests, and, after listening to your side of the story, we’ll develop a defense to weaken the State’s case against you.
What Are the Standard Field Sobriety Tests?
The tests developed by the NHTSA are referred to as the standard field sobriety tests (SFST). Most police officers are trained in administering these and do so during DWI stops.
The three SFSTs include:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: When the eyeballs move side-to-side, they begin “jerking” when they reach a certain angle. This involuntary jerking is called nystagmus. If a person is intoxicated, those little movements will begin earlier than normal. To determine whether or not a driver is drunk, during the HGN test, the officer will move an object from one side to the other in front of the driver and watch the eyeball to see when the jerking occurs.
- Walk-and-Turn Test: During this assessment, the driver is required to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. Then, they must turn around and do it again. The officer is watching to see if the driver touches their heel to their toe, is able to follow the line, continues without stopping to regain balance, and makes the proper turn. If they fail to do any, the officer may determine that they are intoxicated.
- One-Leg Stand Test: In this test, the driver is instructed to lift one leg 6 inches off the ground and count from 1,000. The officer will be observing to see if the motorist can maintain their balance until the time is up.
Contrary to popular thinking, drivers pulled over on suspicion of DWI are not required to take the SFSTs. They can decline to participate, but that does not mean the officer will not take them into custody. They may rely on other evidence to establish cause for an arrest.
Get Started on Your Defense Today
If you took a field sobriety test and “failed,” all hope is not lost in your case. Because these measurements must be administered under ideal conditions and factors such as illness or injury can affect performance, you may have defenses available. Discuss your case with one of our Denton attorneys as soon as possible.
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