Field sobriety tests have been developed and standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and police officers through out the United States have been using these tests for years to determine if drivers are driving under the influence of any type of alcohol or drug. Dallas police officers routinely use a field sobriety test to evaluate whether or not Dallas drivers are driving while intoxicated (DWI) on Texas roadways.
Field sobriety tests include three basic components: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and the one leg stand. These test combined with other evidence which is collected by the Dallas police officer including a driver’s physical appearance (blood shot eyes, slurred speech, in ability to walk) and their erratic driving before the traffic stop can give the officer a good idea of whether or not a driver is DWI.
Drivers may refuse to take a field sobriety test, but if a police officer has gathered enough information to convince him he has probable cause to arrest a driver, he may decide to arrest the driver for DWI with out performing a field sobriety test. Drivers, under Texas Implied Consent Laws, have already given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test (blood, breath, urine) if they are asked to do so by a Dallas police officer. Refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in an immediate suspension of a driver’s Texas license.
The field sobriety test, when performed correctly, can be an effective tool for identifying intoxicated drivers, but it does have limitations. Many drivers who are tired, over-weight, elderly or have other physical or mental impairments may have difficulty properly performing the field sobriety test.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
For the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the Dallas police officer measures the driver’s nystagmus or the involuntary movement of the driver’s eye as it tracks a light or pen. Drivers who are unable to follow the light in one fluid motion may have consumed alcohol or drugs, or they may have a neurological disease or congenital eye defect.
Walk and turn
The next part of the field sobriety test includes the walk and turn test. Dallas police officers may have drivers put their hands to their sides and walk heel to toe for 9 steps and turn and retrace their steps. Drivers who can not walk a real or imaginary line with out falling may be intoxicated. Other conditions may also affect a Dallas driver’s ability to perform this test including inappropriate footwear, communication barriers, poor weather conditions and a driver’s weight or age.
One leg stand
The final step in the field sobriety test is the one leg stand. Dallas drivers are asked to stand straight with their arms at their side and their feet together. Next they are required to raise their leg approximately 6 inches off of the ground. Falling, swaying or raising their hands to maintain balance may indicate the driver is intoxicated.
Finger to the nose
Dallas police officers may have several other non-standard tests which they can use to test for intoxication such as counting backwards or the finger to the nose test. The finger to the nose tests requires Dallas drivers to lean their head back, close their eyes and press their finger to their nose.
Hiring a Dallas DWI lawyer
Being arrested and charged with a DWI can lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension. To save your driving privileges you may need the help of a Dallas DWI lawyer. DWI lawyers in Dallas can file the proper paperwork for your Administration License Revocation hearing which must be done with in 14 days after the date of your DWI arrest.
Dallas DWI attorneys have the skills necessary to find the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s DWI case. Do not fight a DWI charge alone. DWI law can be complex, but a Dallas DWI criminal defense attorney can help you build a solid DWI defense.