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Field Sobriety Tests

Texas Field Sobriety Tests Defense Attorney

Fighting Against Unreliable Field Sobriety and Breath Test Results — Houston, Galveston, League City, Texas

If you were arrested for DWI in Texas, chances are you were subjected to one or more standardized field sobriety tests in addition to a breath test. But, the question needs to be asked: how reliable are these tests? If you are facing DWI charges, you need an attorney on your side who understands these tests.

At Tad Nelson & Associates in League City, we have extensive experience fighting against drunk driving charges in the Houston and Galveston County metro areas. Attorney Tad Nelson served as an assistant district attorney before becoming a board-certified criminal trial lawyer*. He has a distinguished record of winning these cases at trial and holds several DWI certifications.

Our firm combines big city experience with small town values. You can rely on us to provide you with skilled representation and honest, straightforward answers to your questions. Call (281) 280-0100 for a consultation.

Thorough, Reliable and Aggressive DWI Representation

Attorney Tad Nelson has a distinguished track record of winning DWI cases where field sobriety tests are used as evidence and fully understands the flaws inherent in all field sobriety tests, including:

  • Nystagmus tests
  • “Walk and Turn” tests
  • “The One Leg Stand” test
  • “Finger to Nose” test
  • The Rhomberg Balance Test

Perhaps the most harmful test to your case is the breath analyzer test. This test will produce immediate results and will be a major piece of the prosecution’s case. Attorney Tad Nelson has what it takes to fight against the results of these tests and is certified on the Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 8000 breath analyzers.

What Happens If I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

When a police officer suspects that a driver may be intoxicated, the officer will often request one or more field sobriety tests. For example, the officer may ask the driver to perform a “walk-and-turn” test to see if they can maintain their balance. The officer may use the driver’s performance on these tests to form “probable cause” justifying a DWI arrest.

Can you refuse a field sobriety test? Yes. And unlike refusing a Breathalyzer or blood test, there are no immediate consequences for your driver’s license. Texas implied consent law–which mandates administrative suspension of a license based on refusal of a blood or breath test–does not apply to field sobriety tests.

Speeding, Admitting to Drinking All Play a Role in Creating “Probable Cause”

That said, a refusal to take a field sobriety test may, in and of itself, create probable cause for an officer to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. Furthermore, a jury may consider a refusal as potential evidence that you knew that you were intoxicated.

A recent decision from the Texas Second District Court of Appeals, Vardeman v. State, provides a useful illustration. In this case, a state trooper observed a vehicle speeding on I-30. The trooper measured the vehicle’s speed at around 15 miles above the posted speed limit. The trooper, therefore, initiated a traffic stop of the driver, who was the defendant in this case.

The defendant admitted to the trooper that “he was coming from a bar.” The trooper said he smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath. The trooper then requested a field sobriety test, which the defendant refused. The trooper then arrested the defendant and obtained a search warrant to take a blood sample for alcohol testing.

The defendant pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI and received a sentence of three days in jail and a $750 fine. He reserved his right to appeal, however, and before the Second District, he argued the trooper lacked probable cause to make the DWI arrest in the first place. More to the point, the defendant insisted he was only arrested due to his refusal to take the field sobriety tests. The Second District disagreed and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

First, the trooper had “reasonable suspicion” to initiate the traffic stop based on his personal observation of the defendant’s speeding. The “smell of alcohol” then created reasonable suspicion the defendant was intoxicated. As noted above, the defendant also admitted he was coming from a bar. All of these factors, combined with the refusal to take the field sobriety tests, were sufficient to create “probable cause,” the Second District said.

You Need Our Experience on Your Side: Speak with a Galveston DWI & Drunk Driving Lawyer Today

Perhaps more damaging than a refusal to take a field sobriety test is actually admitting to a police officer that you had just been drinking at a bar. As we always caution clients, you should never volunteer any information to a police officer, especially during a traffic stop. To have any chance of emerging with your rights intact, you need our experience and tenacity on your side. The best thing you can do is remain silent, and if you are arrested, contact the qualified Houston DWI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates as soon as possible.

* The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies attorneys in 20 specific areas of law; certification in any of these areas requires substantial demonstrated experience and skill, positive peer evaluations, ongoing legal education commitments, and the passage of a rigorous test.