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Field Sobriety Tests: Understanding Your Rights

 

Suppose you’re driving home from a local restaurant when a police car flashes its lights behind your vehicle as you pull over. The officer claims you were driving erratically and over the speed limit. Then the officer begins to interrogate you over where you are traveling to and how much you had to drink. The police officer asks you to get out of the car so they can perform a field sobriety test. This type of field sobriety test can happen to you anywhere, but here is what you need to be aware of in Fort Worth, Texas.

What to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

The field sobriety test is the officer's way to determine during their investigation on whether you are driving while intoxicated. There are usually three tests involved:

  • One-leg stand: The officer will have you stand on one leg with the other raised about 5-6 inches off the ground. They will have you count up to a certain number loudly while you hold yourself in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Horizontal Eye Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN): The officer will ask you to stand still and to have your eyes follow a moving object in their hand, such as a pen or flashlight.
  • Walk and Turn: You will be instructed to walk in a straight line heel to toe, turn around, and walk back.

The field sobriety test is set up to determine whether you can follow directions without stumbling or swaying, to see if you are slurring your words, and to evaluate if your eyes can follow moving objects. Failure of any of these tests can escalate the situation where the officer may arrest you for driving under the influence or instruct you to take a chemical test such as a breathalyzer test, blood test or urine test.

You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test

You are under no obligation to take a field sobriety test. A driver cannot be penalized with a fine, and you cannot be arrested for refusing to take the test. An officer may determine through their investigation that they want you to take a chemical test. In addition, if you are arrested as your case goes to trial, the officer can testify in court that you refused to take the field sobriety test. With this information, the jury may conclude that the reason why you refused was because you were intoxicated and driving above the legal limit.

Contact legal representation immediately if you have been arrested for a DWI in Fort Worth, Texas. The attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC can help protect your rights and try to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

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