NUMBERS BACKWARD TEST

Texas DUI / DWI suspects typically must take a field sobriety test such as counting numbers backward before being arrested. Many drivers hope they will avoid a drunk driving arrest by “passing” the numbers backward test, but its sole purpose is to create probable cause for an arrest and generate evidence for a driving while intoxicated prosecution. It shouldn’t even be called a test, because the driver is set up to fail. Fortunately, a Texas attorney skilled in DUI / DWI defense will aggressively challenge the outcome of a field sobriety tests as part of a strategic defense plan designed to protect the accused driver’s rights.

The numbers backward test is such an inadequate tool for measuring alcohol intoxication that it isn’t even recognized as a standardized test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Because the test isn’t standardized by the NHTSA, it carries less weight as evidence in a court case than standardized tests. There is no objective scoring system, and the test relies solely on the officer’s opinion of whether the driver passed or failed.

When administering the numbers backward test, the officer will tell the driver to listen to the instructions and then count from one to 10, then back down to one. In some instances the driver will be instructed to begin at 100 or 1000 and required to count backward until directed to stop. While the driver counts, the officer will be watching closely for any signs of alcohol intoxication.

The numbers backward exercise is a divided attention test – it requires the driver to concentrate on two tasks simultaneously. The officer will note any indications that the driver is intoxicated, including an inability to count, an inability to follow instructions, swaying or other balance problems, or starting or stopping the test too early.

However, many factors unrelated to alcohol impairment might cause a driver to perform poorly on the test, including nervousness, fatigue, or motor-skills impairment. Sometimes police don’t do a good job of explaining the instructions, and in some cases they don’t even conduct the test correctly. An experienced DUI / DWI lawyer will aggressively challenge the results of the numbers backward exercise or another field sobriety test.

Many drivers fear there is no hope of beating a driving while intoxicated charge after a poor performance on the numbers backward test. However, this type of circumstantial evidence can be successfully challenged in court. A Texas drunk driving attorney who focuses on DUI / DWI defense will challenge the arresting officer’s interpretation of a driver’s performance on a field sobriety test and create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.