Fort Worth police officers have several methods they can use to gather evidence a driver is driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Fort Worth, Texas. Observation of erratic or illegal driving actions, the physical characteristics of the suspect and a field sobriety test can all provide invaluable information about a driver’s sobriety. Combined together this information may give the arresting officer probable cause to arrest a driver and charge them with DWI.
Drivers may be charged with DWI in Fort Worth if their BAC or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher or their driving is impaired from consuming alcohol or drugs. Fort Worth drivers may be impaired and unable to drive safely with out reaching the illegal BAC limit.
The field sobriety test, standardized in the late 1970s by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is comprised of three tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn and the one leg stand. The field sobriety test has been used for the last forty-years by officers through out the United States including Fort Worth, Texas. The field sobriety test is a valuable tool for identifying intoxicated drivers, but it is not infallible. Fort Worth drivers who are fatigued, over-weight, elderly or not physically fit may all have difficulty completing the test.
Hiring a Fort Worth DWI lawyer
If you have failed a field sobriety test in Fort Worth, a Fort Worth DWI lawyer should be contacted. A DWI conviction in Fort Worth carries harsh penalties, and drivers, who do not have adequate legal representation, may be forced to pay high fines, spend time in jail or have their license suspended. Fort Worth DWI lawyers understand the complexities of Texas DWI laws and can help drivers fight their DUI charges.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Fort Worth police officers can use the horizontal gaze nystagmus or the HGN test to measure the “congenital or acquired persistent, rapid, involuntary, and oscillatory movement of the eyeball”. Drivers who are unable to follow a pen or a small flashlight as it moves slowly in front of their face with a coordinated and smooth motion may have consumed alcohol or drugs. Scientific studies have indicated intoxication can lead to exaggerated, jerking motions of the eye. Unfortunately, some drivers who have to take certain medication or who have a congenital eye defect may also have trouble completing the test. The NHTSA has stated this test, if done correctly, can have an accuracy rate of 88%.
Fort Worth police officers may also have drivers complete a walk and turn test to test their sobriety. The walk and turn test requires drivers to walk, heel to toe, with their arms at their sides, down an imaginary or real line for nine steps, turn and walk back- all with out falling, swaying or raising their hands. Police officers will notice if a driver loses their count, takes a misstep or stops before completing the test. Drivers who make a mistake on multiple test components may be intoxicated. Fort Worth police officers should give clear instructions before the driver attempts the test and the test should be done on a flat, hard surface.
Fort Worth police officers may have the driver complete a one leg stand as the final part of the Fort Worth field sobriety test. Drivers are asked to stand straight, arms to their side, head straight and raise one of their legs approximately 6 inches from the ground while either the driver or the officer counts a loud. If the driver is unable to hold their leg up and maintain balance, they may fail the test. The NHTSA has estimated the accuracy of this test is approximately 83% if the driver fails several of the test components.
Hiring a DWI lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas
Refusing to submit to a chemical test or failing a field sobriety test are both two good reasons to contact a DWI lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas. Field sobriety tests can be a good tool for police officers to establish probable cause for a DWI arrest, but drivers who are taking certain medications, extremely fatigued, more than 50 pounds overweight or who have other physical limitations may have trouble completing the test. In some cases the subjective conclusions of the arresting officer may have been incorrect.
Fort Worth DWI lawyers handle hundreds of DWI cases each year and can review every aspect of the DWI arrest. If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, do not despair. DWI lawyers understand Texas DWI laws and can get you the help you need.