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When Can a Field Sobriety Test Be Successfully Challenged?

Field sobriety testing is commonly used to determine whether a driver is impaired, but this kind of testing is not 100 percent accurate. Since the test can be used as evidence against you in a DWI case, it is important to know what can go wrong.

It's also important to seek counsel from an experienced DWI defense lawyer to ensure that a mistake in police procedure does not lead to a conviction.

Here are some issues that can invalidate the results of field sobriety tests in Texas.

A standardized field sobriety test consists of three parts:

  1. With the "walk and turn," you're asked to walk in a straight line, heel to toe. You'll then have to turn around on one foot and continue walking back to the starting point. That may be relatively easy for many people when sober, but for some, it's not possible due to a disease, a disorder, the structure of the person's body, or the unevenness of the ground surface on which the test was conducted.
  2. Another part of standardized field sobriety testing is the balance challenge, where you're asked to stand on one leg and count. Many people simply don't have the required balance and leg strength to last much longer than a few seconds. Beyond that, if you have an inner ear infection, multiple sclerosis or other neurological condition that affects your balance, it may be possible to challenge the results of the test.
  3. There's also the vision test, known as "horizontal gaze nystagmus." You're asked to follow an object from side to side with your eyes, while an officer observes whether your eyes make any jerky movements. People who've suffered a brain injury may not be able to follow along, or may have mixed success. Again, it would not be fair to convict someone of DWI because they failed the vision test due to a medical condition.

If an officer does not administer the standardized tests correctly, or asks you to perform other challenging tasks to prove your sobriety, the results may not be admissible as evidence.

If you're charged with DWI due to a field sobriety test or blood-alcohol test, remember that tests are not always accurate, and consult with an experienced DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

At Hoelscher Gebbia PLLC, we have been protecting the rights of individuals accused of DWI for years, and we have a record of success in San Antonio and beyond. To learn more, please see our DWI defense overview.

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