Field Sobriety Tests

Houston DWI Attorneys :: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

When a police officer pulls over a person for being suspected of drunk driving, one of the procedures that is almost guaranteed to occur is the field sobriety test. This test was created to help determine when a person is intoxicated and has three parts, consisting of:

    • One-leg stand (OLS test): This test involves the person standing with one leg in the air and their toe pointed. The person then has to count progressively higher for 30 seconds while maintaining perfect balance. If an officer observes signs of impairment, they will take this as an indication the person is likely intoxicated.


    • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN test): This test involves the officer holding an item such as a pen approximately 12 to 15 inches in front of the driver’s face. The officer then tells the person to stare at the object for a set amount of time. If one or both of the driver’s eyes jerk or bounce, this can be taken as a sign of intoxication.


  • Walk-and-turn (WAT test) – The walk-and-turn test requires the driver to walk in a straight line for a short distance. This must also be done in a toe-to-toe fashion and with the driver’s arms held straight out. Officers will look for behaviors such as the inability of the driver to keep their balance or failure to follow the given instructions.

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When You Fail a Field Sobriety Test

If a driver fails any of these tests, the officer will likely ask the driver to take a breathalyzer test or immediately arrest them for DWI. Many of these tests are recorded via a camera within the patrol car, making the results observable by both prosecutors and defense attorneys. The driver will then likely have to stay in jail for three days.

Where These Tests Fail

All of the parts of a police drunk driving test were created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and have been shown to produce false results. A skilled DWI defense attorney will be able to take any evidence related to the testing and search it for areas that may have led to an unnecessary arrest. Almost all these tests have been shown to be effective only 75 percent of the time, leaving considerable room for error.

Consult With a Houston DWI Attorney

The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp has extensive experts and resources available to examine any evidence related to DWI charges. To arrange for a free review of your DWI case, talk to The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today.

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