The Reality Behind Field Sobriety Tests in Texas

The reality is that most people who are asked to submit to a field sobriety test often do so in less than ideal conditions and also, under a significant amount of stress.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, slight variations in conditions, such as an uneven road surface and other factors, may have an effect on the evidentiary weight given to field sobriety test results.   Although the government has not clarified what it means in this regard, police officers continue to testify that adverse weather conditions and uneven road surfaces do not negatively affect the outcome of field sobriety tests.

Overall, it is important to consider that when police officers pull over a driver suspected of driving under the influence, they already assume that the person is intoxicated, sometimes influencing them to act in a biased and potentially unfair manner.  In fact, studies conducted at police training facilities shed significant light on this issue.  Specifically, volunteer test subjects are asked to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel.  When they are “pulled over” by a police officer during the exercise, they tended to act calmly since they were in a controlled environment (which is usually well lit and contains even road surfaces) and not in danger of actually being arrested for a DUI.  However, in reality, when people are pulled over and then asked to submit to a field sobriety test, they often tend to become extremely anxious, sometimes skewing the results.  Moreover, they may also be asked to undergo a test in less than ideal conditions, which may also contribute to an inaccurate outcome.

Generally speaking, ideal conditions for conducting a field sobriety test require a flat surface, proper lighting, and not overly tired and anxious test subjects.   However, most people are asked to undergo a field sobriety test in the following set of circumstances:

  • Early in the morning
  • When anxious in anticipation of being arrested
  • While overtired from work
  • In bad weather or while dark out
  • While standing on uneven or cracked road surfaces
  • While in the shoulder lane of a highway or road
  • With traffic whizzing by, often leading to distraction and embarrassment
  • With police lights flashing, adversely affecting a person’s vision
  • With a police officer putting a flash light up to one’s eyes, blurring their vision

With the above in mind, it is important to realize that you may be able to challenge the results of your field sobriety test if it was administered under less than ideal conditions.  For more information, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Texas DUI attorney to find out more about your rights and responsibilities in this regard.  Experienced criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit will take the time necessary to investigate the facts of your case and mount a strong legal defense on your behalf.  If you wish to discuss your case with Mr. Pettit, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.


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