Several decades ago, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started researching various ways to determine an individual’s intoxication level. That effort brought about field sobriety tests (FSTs), and by the early 1980s, police departments in Texas and across America adopted them for widespread use.
Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are still used heavily today to help police officers determine if they should arrest drivers for driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, these tests often come with flaws, as our experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys can attest. If a field sobriety test unjustly led to your arrest for driving under the influence, consult our skilled attorneys today.
What Are Field Sobriety Tests?
Field sobriety tests consist of a number of performance checks and exercises. The tests help officers determine if a driver they suspect of DWI could indeed be under the influence. To identify whether or not a driver may be intoxicated, officers must observe their physical and mental performance during the tests.
How Are Field Sobriety Tests Used?
When an individual fails a field sobriety test, the law provides that the police officer has reasonable cause to arrest that person for DWI. What’s more, any video of the tests may be used as evidence.
Texas law dictates that a law enforcement officer must have just cause to initiate a field sobriety test. Some examples of reasonable suspicion are when:
- A driver is pulled over for a traffic violation, and the officer spots open alcohol containers or physical signs of impairment.
- An officer stops a driver for allegedly swerving, drifting, or driving erratically.
- An officer may have reasonable suspicion to ask you to undergo an FST at the scene of an accident. It is standard practice for police to investigate whether or not alcohol plays a role in any traffic accident.
While an officer has the right to request a field sobriety test under reasonable suspicion, that does not mean the results of the tests are bulletproof. In fact, many variables present at the time of the FST can leave their results in doubt.
For example, the tests may yield a false positive if the subject is elderly, overweight, or suffers from a medical condition.
There are many reasons why test results may be unreliable, but the bottom line is this: Texas law doesn’t require you to take a field sobriety test, so it might be wise to refuse any request to take one. If you’ve already taken an FST, an expert Austin DWI defense lawyer can challenge the results and fight for your rights.
Can Your Lawyer Challenge Field Sobriety Test Results?
Our experienced attorneys have a long history of fighting FSTs that are improperly administered. In many cases, the officer did not follow the correct test administration procedures. Other times, the officer’s instructions may have been vague or unclear.
In addition to fighting field sobriety test results, we can also challenge other elements of a DWI arrest, such as:
- The grounds for the initial stop
- The manner in which evidence is collected
- If individuals are properly informed of their rights
- The way the arrest is executed
Contact an Experienced Field Sobriety Test Attorney in Austin
If you feel you’ve been unfairly arrested for DWI, perhaps due to an inaccurate field sobriety test, contact Granger and Mueller PC today. Schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled field sobriety test attorney who can answer your questions and help you protect your rights.