Plano Field Sobriety Test Lawyer

The state of Texas conducts field sobriety tests in order to determine a driver’s level of sobriety. These tests are notoriously fraught with problems and concerns. It is important to understand your rights, the different laws regarding field sobriety tests, and how these tests should be conducted here in Texas. If you are facing the loss of driving privileges, call the Wilder Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with our Plano DWI lawyer. Let us help you tell your side of the story.

Ideally, field sobriety tests are conducted properly and lawfully. However, when you get pulled over and questioned by police for DWI, it can be easy to forget all the finer points related to a properly administered field sobriety test.


A field sobriety test is conducted in order to evaluate your reflexes, balance, and mental capabilities. Specifically, there are three tests that are recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

These include:

  • One-leg stand: Raise one leg off the ground about 6 inches while counting for 30 seconds, starting with, ”one thousand and one.” You must keep your arms at your side. The officer checks to see if you are hopping, swaying, using your arms for balance, or putting your foot down. Observing at least 2 of these likely results in failure. Some issues could be whether the ground is uneven or paved, if there are passing cars, or the police car’s flashing lights cause dizziness. Those who are overweight, have a physical disability, or are over 65 years old are more likely to fail the test.
  • Walk-and-turn: You will be asked to walk nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, then turn around and repeat the process while keeping your arms at your sides, counting your steps out loud, and constantly watching your feet. The officer looks to see if you are off-balance, begin too soon, pause walking, use your arms, don’t touch heel-to-toe, take the wrong number of steps, step off the line, and lose your balance during the turn. Failure of even two of these indicators usually means failing the test. This test is problematic because the officer uses their own judgment rather than an empirical metric. As with the other test, distractions can impact your ability to succeed.
  • Horizontal gaze: This test checks the involuntary jerking that happens to your eyes as they move side to side. Sober peoples’ eye movements are smooth, so if the officer observes your eyes jerking a lot during this test, you are likely impaired. You will hold your head still while using your eyes to follow a thin vertical object — usually a pen — as it moves back and forth. The officer looks for lack of smooth pursuit by your eyes, distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation (jerking of the eyes at their corners), and nystagmus at the forty-five-degree area between your shoulder and your nose.

While these three tests are recommended and utilized by police, none of them are perfect. The tests allow for officers to test your sobriety, but these tests can also lead to skewed or inaccurate results.


While administering this test, it is important for the officer to record the results. Occasionally, the officer forgets to complete this step, leading to the evidence being deemed inadmissible. While you have the legal right to refuse to participate in a field sobriety test, the officer is not required to inform you of this right. Also, refusing to take the test will likely lead to your arrest.

Officers in Texas also have the ability to test your blood alcohol level after getting pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Here, an officer will measure the concentration of alcohol in our breath in order to help determine if you are driving while impaired. While refusing to take a field sobriety test is legal, it is illegal to refuse an officer the ability to measure your blood alcohol content. This is because Texas is one of the many states that follow the implied consent law. This law means that by operating a vehicle in the state, you have consented to be tested for alcohol.


As you can see, it is important that you understand the differences in field sobriety tests and what the officer looks for when you complete each test. Being aware of the details of each test will allow you to be better prepared should you ever be faced with the situation of being pulled over and asked to complete one or more of these field sobriety tests. Contact our skilled attorneys right away to help with your DWI.

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