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DWI field sobriety tests: What are those all about?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Maybe you’re a young business professional forging a career in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro. Or perhaps you are an individual employed as a teacher, construction worker, factory employee or nurse. Maybe you’re a student.

Residents across the vast and varied North Texas region can be designated in almost limitless ways. They command highly singular attributes and unique characteristics. The area is a melting pot of vibrancy and individual differences.

Yet there is also commonality, which is stressed in this blog post from one narrow and quite specific perspective.

That is this: the potential for members of any of the above-cited demographics to be pulled into unwanted interaction with Texas law enforcers.

That interaction is especially common for motorists who are flagged by police officers for allegedly driving while intoxicated. A DWI charge and sought criminal conviction is egalitarian in nature; legal challenges routinely ensue for Texas motorists of virtually every type and description.

And when a stop does occur, field sobriety tests often come into play.

The essentials of field (roadside) sobriety tests

Might you be just a bit intimidated and stressed upon being asked to perform various physical tests under the watchful eye of a police officer who is already predisposed toward declaring you a legally impaired motorist?

Most people are, and for good reasons. An officer’s assessment is subjective. The tests are conducted under unusual and tense circumstances. And many people – owing to physical limitations, balancing issues and other factors – have problems with coordination even under optimal conditions.

Texas law enforcers and other police agencies nationally who request that motorists take field sobriety tests (note: compliance is not mandatory, although many people might reasonably think it is) often administer the so-called Standardized Field Sobriety Test. It has these three components:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test (lateral eye movements are gauged for alleged exaggerated jerking that might signal impairment)
  • Walk-and-turn test (analyzing straight and measured walk/gait and balancing ability)
  • One-leg stand test (as described, with swaying movements or rebalancing raising impairment issues)

Again, such mandates can sorely test the ability of legions of people who haven’t imbibed even a drop of alcohol. And a negative assessment is admissible evidence in a DWI case.

Any motorist with questions or concerns regarding field sobriety tests or any other DWI-linked issue might reasonably want to consult with a proven criminal defense legal team without delay. Proven attorneys will always carefully probe allegations against a client and insist that they be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.