Field Sobriety Test

Field Sobriety Tests in Fort Bend County

Charged with DWI from a field sobriety test?

If a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they may pull the driver over and administer a field sobriety test. These tests help determine if a person can perform the physical and cognitive functions of a normal, unimpaired person. To make sure that the tests accurately assess the level of impairment, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) set up various guidelines on how to perform these tests. Unfortunately, field sobriety tests can be highly subjective and they can lead to unfair charges. If you have been charged with a DWI in Fort Bend County, then you should contact a Fort Bend criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of John L. Venza Jr. who can give you effective legal defense strategies.

Different Types of Tests

There are three standardized field sobriety tests in which an officer may ask you to engage in, including the the one-leg stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Some other exercises may include standing with your feet together and tipping your head back, reciting the alphabet, counting backwards, and counting the number of fingers on an officer's hand.

The one-leg stand is performed by standing with one foot six inches off the ground while counting by thousands until the officer is satisfied. If the officer sees you putting your foot down before the test is over, swaying, hopping, or using your arms to balance, then he will most likely suspect that you are intoxicated. Though it is true that most normal individuals can perform this test, the conditions in which this test is often performed are often not the best. The passing headlights of other cars or an uneven roadway can make this test much more difficult. In addition, a person might have a physical condition that keeps them from properly performing this balance test.

The walk and turn test is meant to measure a driver's ability to follow directions, rather than their physical abilities as with the one-leg stand. The suspect will be instructed to take a certain amount of steps from heel to toe while counting out loud. While he or she is doing this, the officer will be checking if the person takes the proper amount of steps, stays on the imaginary line, counts out loud, and maintains balance. If the suspect misses two or more of the criteria, then the officer will may arrest the driver. As with the one-leg stand test, drivers often may not be able to perform well because of a physical or mental disability or perhaps even general nervousness.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) measures the involuntary jerking of a suspect's eyeballs, as this action generally increases under the influence of alcohol. The HGN is generally considered to be the most scientific of the three tests. To perform the test, you must follow a small object with your eyes while keeping your head still. The officer will check to see if you can smoothly follow the object with your eyes. If there is increased jerking when your eyes reach the side, and if jerking starts before your eyes are at a 45 degree angle, they may believe that you are heavily intoxicated. As with other tests, medical conditions or other outside elements can greatly influence the outcome of this test.

Are there any penalties for refusing to take a field sobriety test?

Currently, there are no penalties for refusing to take a field sobriety test. A law enforcement officer may use these exercise to establish probable cause so they can administer a chemical test. In the event that an officer asks you to take a chemical test like the breathalyzer, then there are penalties for refusing, such as license suspension. This falls under the principle of implied consent, which states that when you drive a car, you are agreeing to let the state chemically test you for your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If you should choose not to perform a field sobriety test, then it is important that you remain respectful and non-confrontational when informing the officer of your decision.

Contact a DWI Attorney Today!

Have you been charged with DWI in Fort Bend County because of a field sobriety test? If so, you should hire a DWI lawyer from my firm to investigate your case and fight for your rights! My legal team will thoroughly look into the circumstances surrounding your case and all related evidence to make sure that there was no foul-play. Since I have experience as a former prosecutor, I have unique knowledge of the prosecution's strategies and how to defend you against them. Don't leave your future to chance, but let an attorney who has a winning trial record in a DWI cases fight for you! Contact a criminal defense lawyer today for your free initial consultation.