Michalk, Beatty & Alcozer, L.P.


Field sobriety testing during a DUI/DWI stop

Field sobriety tests are administered by law enforcement officials to individuals suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. In Texas and other jurisdictions throughout the country field sobriety tests are often administered on the sides of the roads where the suspected drunk drivers are stopped. This post will generally discuss the types of tests individuals may face when stopped for suspected drunk driving and what those tests attempt to prove.

The three most common tests used by law enforcement officials for determining intoxication in drivers test individuals' balance, coordination, and visual acuity. For example, one of the tests requires an individual to stand still while on one foot; swaying, using one's arms, or bouncing may all indicate that the driver is unable to balance and therefore affected by alcohol.

Another of the tests requires a driver to walk in a straight line, turn, and return to where they started without wavering or falling off their line. This test, like the balance test, allows an officer to assess a person's coordination and capacity to move in a straight trajectory.

The final of the three tests does not require a driver to walk or stand still but rather is an assessment of the driver's eye movement. The individual is asked to look to one side, and if the officer witnesses jerking or erratic movement in the eyes then that may be evidence of intoxication in the driver.

Unfortunately, though, all of these tests can be affected by factors not related to a driver's level of intoxication. In fact, depending upon the terrain on which the tests are administered, the medications a person is taking, the medical conditions the individual suffers from, and a host of other factors a person may fail these tests even without having alcohol in their system.

Field sobriety tests are not always accurate indicators of a driver's condition, and for that reason individuals who have been charged with DUI/DWI crimes can sometimes offer defenses to the sobriety testing evidence brought against them. Drunk driving crimes can be punished with serious consequences but with the help of DUI/DWI defense counsel some individuals are able to overcome their legal hurdles and preserve their freedom.

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