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If you’re pulled over under the suspicion that you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s very likely that you’ll face a vehicle search and field sobriety tests before a breathalyzer test. In Texas, failing these tests can land you in jail and possibly facing even worse criminal charges.
There are a few things you can expect when pulled over and suspected of a DWI. The police officers will ask you questions to get a better idea of your state. They may ask you where you were and where you are doing. You’ll be asked to present your driver’s license and proof of insurance. The officers will be watching everything you do during this time to see if you slur or have difficulty completing the tasks.
If they observe you having evident difficulty speaking or doing what they say, you may be asked to step out of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. These tests are usually standardized physical tests designed to be particularly challenging for people under the influence. Three of the most popular field sobriety tests are the one-legged stand, the walk and turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Studies of these tests have revealed that they are not always accurate in determining whether a person is intoxicated.
Do you have to comply with a field sobriety test?
Most officers will not tell you this, but a field sobriety test is voluntary. The officers cannot legally force you to comply with a sobriety test. At any point during the police stop, you can politely decline to complete the tests. Even if you’ve already done one, you can tell the officer that you do not want to complete any other tests until you have spoken with an attorney.
Refusing to do a field test limits the amount of evidence the police have against you in court; however, it will not stop them from arresting you for a DWI. If the officer has reasonable cause to believe that you’ve been drinking and driving, they can still arrest you. For example, if you smell of alcohol, are slurring your words, or driving recklessly, then they can still charge you with a DWI and place you under arrest.
Texas has certain “no refusal” weekends, which law enforcement advertises as weekends where you cannot refuse contenting to field sobriety tests. During these weekends, officers have judges on call to sign a search warrant on the spot. So if you refuse their search, they can present you with a warrant within minutes. However, during these weekends, you can still refuse a breathalyzer or a field sobriety test.
By refusing a sobriety test, you are reducing the amount of evidence that the court has against you, and will allow an attorney to build a better case in your favor.
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, it’s time to contact an experienced Houston DWI attorney like Christopher T. Gore to help you. Don’t rely on generic advice that isn’t specific to your situation. Set up a consultation today to find out how we can help.