At G.J. Chavez & Associates, P.C., we understand that being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. One of the most common methods law enforcement officers use to assess a driver’s sobriety is through field sobriety tests (FSTs). This blog post will discuss what you can expect during a field sobriety test in Texas and provide guidance on handling them effectively.
Understanding Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and cognitive tests administered by police officers to assess a driver’s level of impairment. These tests evaluate a person’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions. In Texas, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has standardized three FSTs that are commonly used:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
The HGN test measures involuntary eye movements when a person gazes to the side. Police officers will use a pen or small object to assess the smoothness of your eye movements. Impaired individuals may exhibit jerking or distinct eye movements, indicating potential alcohol or drug impairment.
Walk-and-Turn (WAT) Test
During the WAT test, you will be asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn, and then take nine steps back. This test assesses your balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions. Police officers will look for various indicators of impairment, such as stepping off the line, using arms for balance, or failing to turn correctly.
One-Leg Stand (OLS) Test
In the OLS test, you will be asked to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground while counting aloud for a specific duration. This test evaluates your balance, coordination, and ability to maintain focus. Signs of impairment can include swaying, hopping, using arms for balance, or inability to keep balance.
Handling Field Sobriety Tests
It’s important to remember that field sobriety tests are voluntary in Texas. You can refuse to perform these tests without facing immediate legal consequences. However, refusing a breath or blood test after an arrest may lead to administrative penalties, such as suspending your driver’s license.
Remain Calm and Cooperative
If you participate in field sobriety tests, remaining calm and cooperative throughout the process is crucial. Speak respectfully to the officer, follow instructions carefully, and maintain a composed demeanor. Being polite and respectful can help create a more favorable impression.
Know Your Rights
While it is essential to cooperate with law enforcement, it is equally important to know your rights. You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You can politely decline to answer questions that may harm your defense. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process.
Document the Test
If you decide to participate in field sobriety tests, try to document the test as accurately as possible. Take mental notes of the conditions under which the tests were administered, such as poor lighting or uneven surfaces. These details may be valuable in building a solid defense case later on.
Being aware of what to expect during field sobriety tests in Texas and how to handle them can significantly impact the outcome of your DUI case. Remember, while participation in FSTs is voluntary, refusing a breath or blood test after arrest may lead to administrative penalties. If you face a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to contact our team at G.J. Chavez & Associates, P.C. We have extensive experience defending individuals accused of driving under the influence. We will fight diligently to protect your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Contact G.J. Chavez & Associates, P.C. today to ensure your rights are protected and receive the best possible outcome for your DUI case!