Walking a Straight Line?

A primary tool used by law enforcement to detect and collect evidence on DWI investigations are field sobriety tests. Police officers investigating potential DWI violations employ a number of different field sobriety tests, each one depending on the subjective interpretation by the police officer of what constitutes a failed test.

One question that is often asked by attorneys who defend DWIs is whether a driver suspected of DWI should take a field sobriety test. The answer to that question is an unqualified ‘no.’ The only purpose of taking a field sobriety test is to build a DWI case against a driver. The examples of a person taking and passing these test are rare, if not non-existent.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious. If a police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, you are already a suspect for DWI. This means that the police officer smelled alcohol, observed bloodshot eyes, or saw some other indicator of drinking and driving. So, once a police officer asks a suspect to take a test, the only thing he or she is doing is building the already started DWI case.

The reasons why a driver should refuse a field sobriety test are equally obvious. First off, no one is obligated under Texas law to take a field sobriety test. Next, it is too easy to “fail” a test to risk any benefit you might gain. Take the walk-a-straight-line test, for example. Most DWI investigations take place late at night or in the early morning, when people are tired or drowsy. Walking a straight line in those circumstances can be challenging for many people.

The Tests Used

Walking a straight line is just one of the tests used by police officers investigating DWI. Another, controversial test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. That requires a suspect to follow a police officer’s finger or other object with the eyes, all while the police officer observes what happens with the suspect’s eyes. According to the theories, if the suspect’s eyes fail to follow the object or twitches while following, that is an indicator of inebriation. But again, the interpretation of the results of this test, and the failure rates for other reasons, make this test equally unreliable.

As you can see, the results and ways field sobriety tests are used to investigate DWIs reveal why a person should not consent to taking them. If you are charged with DWI and did take these tests, you need the right defense team to dissect the process used by the police, challenge the facts as presented, and mount a defense as to why the tests should not be relied upon.

Hiring the right legal team will be the biggest choice you make as a DWI defendant. If you are charged with DWI, contact us today. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm our focus will be the defense of your charges, and helping you get the best results possible.