Do you have to take a field sobriety test in Texas?

| Apr 23, 2018 |

If a police officer pulls you over due to suspecting you are driving while intoxicated, he or she may ask you to step out of the car and perform a field sobriety test. The point of this test is to determine if you are drunk and deserving of an arrest for DWI.

While it is always a good idea to cooperate with law enforcement, you do not have to take this roadside test in Texas. You can politely refuse to take it and will not be subject to any penalties for refusal. This fact is important to know because field sobriety tests are easily inaccurate and only harm your case. 

Causes of inaccuracies

The test involves different actions that require divided attention, or multitasking, as well as a check of your visual gaze. Alcohol is not the only factor that can affect your performance of these actions. Others include the following:

  • Age can affect your balance and coordination.
  • Being overweight by 50 pounds or more can make the one-leg stand difficult.
  • Problems with your back, legs, inner ear, hearing or vision all can produce inaccurate results.
  • Mental comprehension, language abilities and emotional state can cause you to perform worse than usual.
  • Even what you are wearing can influence how the officer interprets your movements.

As for fatigue, the camps are divided. Some say fatigue is not a significant factor, whereas others such as the National Sleep Foundation claim that sleep deprivation can cause symptoms similar to intoxication.

Mistakes of police officers 

Furthermore, officers are not health professionals. They receive limited training on how to carry out and interpret field sobriety tests, and the law does not even require that they be certified. One thing that is not permissible is stating that you definitely have a specific BAC based on only your field sobriety test. With so many things that can go wrong, and such a high risk of hurting your case, it is best to skip the roadside test.