If a Texas police officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test. The goal of the test is to determine your ability to focus on multiple variables at the same time. In most cases, the results of such tests can be introduced into evidence at trial.
Your ability to stay upright will be tested
An officer may ask you to take nine steps forward, turn around and then take nine more steps back to your original location. While you are walking, the officer will look to see if you need to use your arms for balance or if you stop to regain your balance. Generally speaking, a failure to follow instructions will be interpreted as a sign of impairment.
In addition to walking, you may be asked to spend time standing on a single leg. Generally, your foot must stay at least six inches off the ground during the duration of the test. Hopping, swaying or putting your foot down may be seen as signs of impairment.
Your eyes may show clues of impairment
An officer will typically ask you to follow the light emitted by a flashlight or to follow a pen while it is moving. He or she will look for signs of an exaggerated horizontal gaze nystagmus or an inability to follow the light or object smoothly.
It is possible to fail a field sobriety test while sober
If you have a medical condition that makes it hard to stand or focus on objects in motion, you could perform poorly on a field sobriety test. The same may be true if you wear contact lenses, take medication or have a legitimate disability.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to help you obtain a favorable outcome in a DWI case. For instance, your attorney might cast doubt on the results of a field sobriety test by claiming that an injury made it difficult to stand. This may be enough to have a charge reduced or dismissed.