Oklahoma's Oldest DUI Defense Firm

Attorneys Stephen G. Fabian Jr. and Brian P. Young

3 things drivers should know about field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | DUI - Drunk Driving |

If a police officer suspects someone of drunk driving, they will almost certainly look for ways to confirm that suspicion. During a traffic stop or after a crash, a police officer may ask someone very specific questions. They may also request that someone perform field sobriety tests or submit to chemical breath testing.

The outcome of that interaction could be an individual’s arrest. Field sobriety tests often seem like an embarrassing obligation during a traffic stop. Motorists may worry that someone they know could pass by while they attempt to prove their sobriety on the side of the road. Ultimately, drivers who understand the three important facts about field sobriety tests below can potentially navigate a traffic stop more effectively than the average individual.

There are three standardized tests

For a field sobriety test to produce evidence that a prosecutor can use in court, it has to have a basis in medical science. Therefore, police departments typically train police officers to conduct three specific field sobriety tests. The standardized field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Each of these tests can information that supports claims of drunk driving.

Mistakes during test administration are common

While there may only be three tests that police officers should administer, they could still make mistakes while doing so. Some officers administer their own tests instead of the standardized tests. Other times, officers ask that people perform the tests at a location where there is no camera footage captured. Errors during the test administration process could potentially lead to a lawyer later excluding those test results from a criminal trial. When police officers don’t adhere to best practices, field sobriety test results may not be admissible in criminal court.

Field sobriety testing isn’t mandatory

Texas does have an implied consent law that mandates the performance of a chemical test when a police officer arrests someone for impairment at the wheel. However, pre-arrest field sobriety testing is not mandatory. There is no law requiring field sobriety testing, and there aren’t any immediate penalties for declining a requested test.

Those stopped by police officers on suspicion of drunk driving need to know what is likely to happen next if they want to protect themselves. As such, knowing the rules that govern field sobriety tests can benefit those accused of intoxication while driving.