Refusal of Sobriety Test

Refusal of Sobriety Tests

Fort Bend DWI Lawyer

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that one's mental and motor skills are impaired. With drunk driving cases there are several situations where a police officer will suspect that a driver is driving while intoxicated, some examples include:

  • The driver was involved in an auto accident and the officer responded to the scene.
  • The driver was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint.
  • The driver broke a traffic law such as speeding, running a red light, blowing through a stop sign etc.
  • The police received a tip, possibly from another citizen who observed the vehicle driving erratically.

Once the officer has observed enough to have a reasonable suspicion (e.g. alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or admission of consumption of alcohol) that the driver is under the influence, they will ask the suspect to step outside of the vehicle and perform a series offield sobriety tests.

These are roadside tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); they are "divided attention tests" which test the driver's ability to perform mental and physical multitasking exercises that are required to operate a motor vehicle. The three standard field sobriety tests include:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk-and-turn
  • One-leg-stand

Do I have to take the field sobriety tests?

One of the most controversial aspects of a DWI case is the field sobriety tests, particularly since these tests have an accuracy range of around 65 to 68% and they are not validated for people with medical conditions, injuries, people that are 50 pounds or more overweight, or for people 65 years or older.

Currently, there is no penalty for refusing to take the field sobriety tests, but I do recommend that suspects politely refuse to take these tests in a non-confrontational manner. Any evidence collected from such tests are used to gain probable cause to make a DWI arrest and any footage captured on a police officer's dash cam can be used against you in court. However, there is a penalty for refusing to submit to a chemical test in the form of a blood, breath or urine test under the state's "implied consent" law. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, it will result in penalties such as an automatic driver's license suspension.

Have you been arrested for DWI after failing field sobriety tests in Fort Bend? If so, I urge you to contact me right away. As a Fort Bend DWI attorney and former prosecutor with an extensive trial record, I know how to defend all types of DWI charges. Don't leave your future in the hands of a public defender or a weak or apathetic defense attorney – contact me today to schedule a free consultation at (281) 971-5660!