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Stopped for DWI?

Criminal Law
Did you know that law enforcement cannot force you to submit to field sobriety tests? Police officers are trained to put you through three standard field sobriety tests if they believe you may be driving while intoxicated.

These tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, which is basically looking for a jerking motion in your eyes that law enforcement are trained to believe is a sign of intoxication. The Walk and Turn test, which has you walk nine steps back and forth down a line or imaginary while the officer looks for mistakes or “clues” such as not touching your heel to your toe on each step, stepping off the line, using arms for balance, etc. The third test, the One Leg Stand Test, which has you stand on one leg for thirty seconds.

Again, the officer is looking for mistakes or “clues” such as using arms for balance, hopping, or putting your foot down. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is, to say the least, controversial in its alleged accuracy in showing you may be intoxicated. Further, it must be administered in a precise manner to even be admissible in court under Texas law. The Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand tests are something you have probably never done before and now you are being asked to perform them under very stressful circumstances.

It takes few “clues” or mistakes for the officer based on his training, to believe you are intoxicated. In my opinon nearly everyone will make mistakes while attempting to perform these tests whether they are intoxicated or not.

Accordingly, you can just politely and respectfully say no when the officer requests that you perform these tests. Some people respond to this advice by saying: “well then I will be arrested because I didn’t do the tests.” You may be. But if the officer got you out of your vehicle for the field tests he probably already believes you are driving while intoxicated.

Further, if the officer does arrest you after you have refused these field sobriety tests then he is saying, by his actions, he had probable cause to arrest you based on the, probably minimal, evidence he has already observed.