Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

standardized field sobriety tests

If you are stopped for suspected drunk driving in Texas, a police officer may put you through one of these standard field sobriety tests, including the Walk & Turn Test, the One Leg Stand Test or the Horizontal Nystagmus Test before deciding whether to charge you with a DWI or DUI. However, none of these tests is entirely accurate. They also may require mental and physical abilities that you do not possess because of medical conditions, stress or physical stature.

If you failed a field sobriety test and were charged with drunk driving, your freedom and your future could be in jeopardy. You need the Austin, TX DWI defense attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., to review your case.

Call us today at (512) 476-4873 or contact us through our online form. We know how to challenge field sobriety test results for drivers in Hays, Bastrop, Caldwell, Burnet, Comal, Travis and Williamson counties. We will defend your rights and reputation.

Walk & Turn Test

An officer asks you to walk heel to toe for nine steps in one direction and nine steps in the opposite direction. While walking, you must count out loud while making a specific type of turn. The test is premised on the idea that an intoxicated person could not perform the multiple tasks of walking, counting and turning at the same time. Police officers are supposed to identify eight specific signs to decide whether your performance in the walk & turn test indicates intoxication and merits a DWI or DUI charge.

However, this test contains two noteworthy flaws:

  • The officer may not be properly trained in giving the test and may provide instructions that confuse the driver and cause the driver to perform poorly; and
  • The driver may not have good balance and concentration – two criteria not everyone possesses even when perfectly sober.

One Leg Stand Test

An officer asks you to stand on one leg while keeping the other leg more than six inches off the ground and counting to 30. The officer will try to identify four signs that indicate whether you are intoxicated. Like the Walk & Turn Test, a person’s poor sense of balance and nervousness could skew the results, regardless of whether the person is drunk or sober.

Horizontal Nystagmus Test

An officer asks you to follow a pen with your eyes in this test. The test is premised on the idea that eyes have a natural shaking action, or nystagmus. If you are intoxicated, the shakiness is visually evident from your eye movements, and the officer is able to discern the nystagmus.

However, this test is flawed in two ways:

  • The officer may not be properly trained and may take inaccurate readings; and
  • An eye condition, such as “lazy eye,” may cause an officer to mistake your eye motion as a sign of intoxication.

There are several ways to challenge the reliability of these tests and to challenge their admission as evidence in your case, including:

  • The medical profession does not accept eye tests as a valid indication of intoxication.
  • Eye tests measure eye movement to a specific degree, while police officers in the Horizontal Nystagmus Test are merely taking estimates, which could be inaccurate.
  • Officers are neither qualified nor capable of accurately performing eye tests.