How to Challenge a Failed Field Sobriety Test

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Brenna Mills
December 19, 2018
Failed Field Sobriety Test, Fort Worth TX

Most people are aware that a failed field sobriety test means you’ll be arrested for DWI, which is why many refuse to take their test.

But prosecutors will always try to take the fact that you refused field sobriety test and blow it out of proportion. They may resort to tactics such as claiming the refusal is an admittance of guilt. And even if you take the tests, they’re biased and easy to mess up, whether you’re sober or drunk.

Defending a failed field sobriety test simply means showing the jury how biased these tests really are. An experienced Fort Worth DWI attorney will not only demonstrate these biases to the jury, but will also try to convince the jury that a failed test does not automatically mean you were driving under the influence.

Here are some ways we can defend against a failed field sobriety test:

The Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test requires that you walk forward heel to toe, with your arms down by your side. Unfortunately, you need to keep this heel to toe position while the officer explains the test, which means fatigue will soon set in.

Any misstep from position could give the officer “evidence” of your intoxication. In fact, it only takes 2 errors out of 8 for an intoxication charge to be brought against you. Another potential problem facing this field sobriety test, is that your toe must be within one half inch of your heel. This is especially difficult when performing the test on gravel or loose rocks. Now compound that with cars rushing by and the officer’s blinding flashlight in your face, and you’ve got yourself a test made to fail.

Like most other field sobriety tests, the biggest problem with the walk and turn test is that there are many factors that could result in a fail. Placing exactly what your performance is based on is nearly impossible.

The HGN Test

The Horizontal Gaze and Nystagmus (HGN) test is one of the easiest field sobriety tests for officers to mess up. Furthermore, we’ve even seen cases where only 5 out of every 100 tests performed were actually administered correctly. Why is this test so often improperly administered?

When one officer incorrectly teaches how to conduct the test to ten other officers, then all those other officers will inadvertently administer the test improperly. Also, some lazy officers purposely ignore protocol to get through the test faster.

In reality, a simple eye jerk does not mean intoxication. But unfortunately, during a HGN test, it will result in an arrest. There may be a number of environmental, biological, or medical reasons that your eye twitches. However, police and prosecutors will ignore all those factors.

The One-Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test requires that you stand with one leg raised off the ground and your arms held down by your side. The officer will also ask that you count out loud until he says to stop, all while recording any clues that may indicate intoxication.

The biggest problem with this test is that the clues the officer is looking for are never fully disclosed. While your foot may get tired, the officer will say that you can put it down and pick it back up — but putting your foot down is a “sign” of intoxication. If you lose balance, which is very likely when under pressure, should that really be considered evidence of intoxication? Not everyone is a gymnast.

What About Breath or Blood Tests?

In addition to challenging the results of field sobriety tests, a DWI attorney can also challenge the results of chemical tests.

While a good breathalyzer contains filters that keeps other chemicals from interfering with results, there are still many issues that often arise. These issues are typically either human error or mechanical malfunction. Also, in some cases, medical conditions can impede results. For example, simple body functions, such as burping, can cause inaccurate readings. Plus, if you add improper care of breathalyzer machines on top of everything else, then you have any number of reasons that could lead to inaccurate results.

Contact a Fort Worth TX DWI Attorney Today

A failed field sobriety test does not mean that you will be convicted of DWI. Get an experienced DWI attorney on your side by calling Hoeller & McLaughlin PLLC today.

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