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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Defense from Wrongful Tests

When an officer sees a motorist who is driving erratically, such as swerving or weaving, braking for no reason, or disregarding traffic stops and signals, the officer has every right to pull the individual over and investigate for intoxicated driving. One of the most common ways for an officer to properly assess whether or not a person is drunk is by submitting the motorist to a series of field sobriety tests. These tests must be administered correctly, though, or else any decision or arrest made based on the outcome could be invalid.

Standard Field Sobriety Test Procedures

There are three standard field sobriety tests (SFSTs), the first of which is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. When a person is intoxicated, their eyes may twitch when they attempt to look too far to the right or left. To test this, an officer will ask the suspect to watch a moving point, such as the officer's finger, while keeping their head stationary. As the officer moves his finger from side to side, he watches the suspect's eyes for the telltale nystagmus.

The second test is the Walk-and-Turn, which is a "divided attention" test. Those who are drunk have a difficult time focusing on more than one thing at once, so an officer will ask the suspect to "walk the line" taking a certain number of steps, turn, and repeat their actions. If the individual has difficulty remembering the instructions, walking a straight line, or keeping their balance, he or she may be arrested for driving while intoxicated.

The final SFST is called the One-Leg Stand. Also a divided attention test, this exercise shows whether or not a person has full control of their physical capabilities. The officer will request that the person stand on one foot and count out loud, usually to thirty in increments of one thousand. If the person cannot keep their balance or count correctly while standing on one leg, a legal arrest can be made.

Failure of any one of these tests could result in a DWI arrest, but there are numerous other factors that could cause failure of these tests, such as medical conditions, stress, or physical disabilities. Consult with an educated and dedicated Collin County DWI lawyer today to help protect your rights.

Experienced and Persistent Legal Assistance

No one should suffer a conviction if they have been wrongfully arrested. Fight to prove your innocence! I handle nothing but DWI cases and have had experience with hundreds of trials. My firm is also highly rated by Avvo®, Martindale-Hubbell® and more. If you need skilled and aggressive defense and legal counsel, I have what it takes to help.

Call my firm today for a consultation!

  • Recognition

    For Skill & Commitment

    I have been given the honor of inclusion on the list of Texas' Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star

    About Troy P. Burleson [+]
  • Guidance

    From a Knowledgeable Attorney

    The smallest mistake could dramatically and adversely affect the direction of your case.

    Top 10 DWI Mistakes [+]
  • Real Results

    That Changed Lives

    I have consistently won over 70% of the cases I represent. Read about my victories!

    Case Results [+]
  • Contact Us

    Request a Consultation

    You only have 15 days to save your license! Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

    Start Your Defense [+]