STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

Drivers suspected of DUI / DWI typically must take a field sobriety test before being arrested. However, field sobriety tests shouldn’t even be called “tests,” because the driver is destined to fail. The true purpose of field sobriety tests is to create probable cause for a drunk driving arrest and to generate evidence for a driving while intoxicated prosecution. However, this evidence can be effectively challenged. Fort Bend defense lawyer David Hunter is a certified field sobriety test instructor who will use his training to discredit the arresting officer and undermine the value of any field sobriety test evidence.

Most police officers fail to tell drivers that field sobriety tests are optional. Many drivers perform the test because they believe that a good performance will allow them to avoid arrest. However, most police officers make the decision to arrest a suspected drunk driver long before a field sobriety test is performed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has standardized three field sobriety tests – the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. These tests carry more evidentiary weight in court than non-standardized tests, but a skilled DUI / DWI defense lawyer will aggressively challenge any of these tests in court.

Experts agree that alcohol triggers both mental and physical impairment, but mental impairment always occurs first. Drinkers with a high alcohol tolerance can disguise physical impairment, but mental impairment cannot be masked. Therefore, a driver who suffers from physical impairment but no mental impairment cannot have been impaired by alcohol.

Many drivers are physically unable to perform field sobriety tests correctly, and their physical impairments are interpreted as signs of alcohol intoxication. A driver who suffers from injury or illness may perform poorly without being intoxicated. Also, certain people should not be given these tests, such as individuals over 65 or who are 50 pounds or more overweight, but police often ignore that warning.

Fortunately, jurors must be convinced of a driver’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubtin order to return a Texas DUI / DWI conviction. Prosecutors rely heavily on circumstantial evidence such as field sobriety tests to prove their cases, but a skilled defense lawyer will learn about any physical problems experienced by the driver and use than information to explain the driver’s performance.

There are many factors that can cause physical impairment, including illness, injury, fatigue, or even nervousness. Texas drunk driving defense lawyer David Hunter will determine whether factors unrelated to alcohol use may have contributed to any physical impairment, and attack the results of standardized field sobriety tests.