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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results in Texas

What medical conditions might impact the walk-and-turn test?


The state of Texas has taken a harsh stance on drunk driving, with officers across the nation focused on finding and punishing those who drink and drive.  Per Texas law, anyone driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher could face DUI charges.  Further, anyone who is found to be under the influence of drugs while driving can be convicted of a DUI.  Police officers in Texas and across the nation often use a series of field sobriety tests to gather evidence of your intoxication. These tests could make the difference between your arrest or release.  Our Midland, Texas DUI defense lawyers explain the types of field sobriety tests you can encounter and how to challenge the findings below.


Types of Field Sobriety Tests


Officers in Texas administer three main field sobriety tests.  These include:

  1. The Walk-and-Turn Test:  During the walk-and-turn test, the officer will ask the detained person to take nine steps while walking heal-to-toe in a straight line.  He or she must then turn on one foot and return in the same manner. The officer will closely watch to detect signs of intoxication, which may be evidenced by trouble balancing, stepping off the line, or using the arms for balance.
  2. The One-Leg Stand Test:  Here, the individual suspected of a DUI must stand with one foot held about six inches above the ground for a count of 30.  Police officers will watch for swaying, hopping, and use of the arms for balance.
  3. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test:  This test requires that the detained person follow the officer’s pen or flashlight back and forth with their eyes alone.  The officer will look at the suspect’s ability to closely follow the object.

Challenging the Tests 


If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI on the basis of your field sobriety test results, you may be able to challenge the charge along with the test results.  There are several potential grounds to challenge a field sobriety test.  First, you could raise questions as to the officer’s administration of the tests.  These tests must be carefully carried out, and small missteps could destroy the reliability of the test.  Further, you could contest the results if you have a physical or mental condition that may have impacted the test.  For instance, neurological issues, ear problems, and other conditions can impact your balance, which will affect the results of the walk-and-turn test and one-leg-stand.  Contact our DWI defense lawyers for assistance with defending against the charges you face.



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