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A failed test is probable cause for a DUI arrest

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2024 | DWI/DUI |

If you think back to your years as a student (perhaps you still are one), you might recall having test anxiety. Many people experience intense stress right before taking a test, even if they have thoroughly studied for it. Tests outside the classroom might have the same effect, such as taking a driver’s test or a Texas police officer asking you to take a field sobriety test to check for probable cause when suspecting DUI.  

A police officer has several options regarding which field sobriety test he or she asks you to take during a traffic stop. In fact, to maximize accuracy, many police officers might request that you perform more than one type of test. The most common types of field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stance test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.  

The HGN test is unique from the other two DUI tests 

In a walk-and-turn test and one-leg stance test, the investigating officer observes your ability to follow a series of simple instructions. The test also measures your ability to balance while walking a straight line with arms outstretched or when standing on one foot, sometimes with your head tilted upward. The HGN test, on the other hand, is an eye test used to observe whether your eyeballs shake erratically while tracking an object before reaching their maximum peripheral vision point.  

Because none of the three DUI tests are 100% accurate, police officers often use a combination of two or more tests to confirm their suspicion. If you fail one of these tests, the officer can take you into custody. If you are a person who naturally has test anxiety, it is likely that you might not perform well on a field sobriety test, even if you’re sober at the time. The good news is that you have no obligation to take such tests and may politely refuse when requested to do so.  

Scoring of field sobriety tests is not standard 

There are guidelines regarding what an investigating officer should watch for during a field sobriety test. Since the tests require a police officer’s observation, there is a certain amount of opinion involved in the scoring process. If you trip or stumble, the officer may assume intoxication. However, it’s possible that you might be sober but have a past injury that impedes your ability to balance on one leg or to walk a straight line. In fact, you just might be a clumsy person. 

If a DUI arrest takes place, you’ll undoubtedly end up in a Texas county jail. It’s always best to seek legal counsel before adjudication of a case. Experienced guidance can help you determine which type of defense strategy best fits your needs to help achieve as positive an outcome as possible in court.