A man recently convicted of DWI in the state of Texas is appealing his conviction. This appeal is one of many such appeals that challenge the validity of field sobriety tests used by officers nationwide. This particular appeal was filed with the Ninth Court of Appeals of Texas, and it is not yet known whether either side will appeal the results to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Field sobriety tests are often challenged both at the trial level and appellate level. There are many different types of field sobriety tests, and each one can be as unreliable as the next. These tests so often come under scrutiny by defense teams because of the fallible nature of the tests and their inability to reproduce results or properly account for contributing conditions that would skew any results.
The man appealing his case to the Ninth Court of Appeals of Texas is challenging the way the police officers conducted their tests. In his filing, he alleges that the police failed to perform the test where their vehicle or other cameras could record the result. One argument to support this position is that if the police had conducted the tests in front of the camera, a neutral judge or jury could ascertain for themselves whether the test was accurate.
The test at issue in this case is the infamous Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. This test, known as the HGN test has been challenged across the country for its inaccuracies and fallibility. The results of these challenges has been mixed throughout the nation, including how Texas itself treats the test. The administration of an HGN test happens when the police officer asks a person to focus on an object and follow it while looking for a jerking of the eye to determine if the person is intoxicated or not.
HGN Test Legality
This test was challenged by a person convicted of DWI in a 1994 case known as Emerson v. State, 880 SW 2d 759 (Tex. Ct. Crim. App. 1994). In that case the person convicted of DWI challenged whether the police officer could properly testify about a scientific test without being admitted as an expert of the test. The court ruled on this issue, but also set a precedent on the reliability of the HGN test.
In its ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the HGN test was reliable, but set some parameters for use of the test in court. For example, the court ruled that a police officer could testify about the results of the HGN test, but could not base a blood alcohol level prediction based on the test. Additionally, a police officer must show that he or she is an expert in the HGN test to be able to testify about it in court.
Protecting and Defending Your Rights
The police and prosecution in any DWI case will take any steps they can to ensure they get the maximum conviction and penalty possible. That is why any DWI case needs the professionalism and expertise of a true DWI defense firm. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we have the experience your case deserves. If you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI and charged, contact us. We will make your case our number one priority and put all our efforts in getting you the best result possible.