Field Sobriety Test

Texas DWI Validated SFST’s Homepage

There are only three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that are validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. San Antonio DWI attorney | Austin DWI attorney Jamie Balagia knows as much or more about these tests than the officer who arrested you. Jamie is a NHTSA certified Standardized Field Sobriety Instructor, and has taught numerous attorneys how these tests are supposed to be administered. The three standardized tests are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

The HGN, or eye test is said to be the most reliable indicator of intoxication. That may or may not be true if the test is properly administered, but sadly, it is rarely properly administered. The concept behind the HGN is that alcohol intoxication will cause a disruption of your vestibular system and cause your eyes to bounce or jerk. The purpose of the HGN test is see whether your eyes bounce when they are moved from side to side, and to attempt to measure when that bouncing first begins as your eyes move to the outer corner of your face.

There is no way for you to stop your eyes from bouncing while performing the HGN test. This bouncing is an involuntary action. There are, however, several serious flaws with how this test is administered by San Antonio DWI officers and Austin DWI officers. HGN can be caused by medical conditions, certain medicines, head trauma at any point in your life, environmental factors, improper test administration, and can naturally occur in a certain percentage of people even without alcohol being present.

Walk-and-Turn (WAT)

In the walk and turn test you walk down a real or imaginary line touching heel-to-toe, make a specific type of turn, and walk back to your original starting position. The purpose of the test is see whether you can remember to do all of the things the officer instructed you to do – thus, successfully dividing your attention between the mental task of remembering what you were told to do, and the physical task of actually performing the test properly.
There are a number of defenses to this test. One of the most obvious is that the San Antonio DWI officers and Austin DWI officers are using abnormal actions to test whether you can perform a normal task (driving). Others include, improper instruction, distractions by passing traffic and other environmental conditions, medical conditions, and lack of balance due to injury or age.

One-leg Stand (OLS)

The one leg stand field sobriety test is where the officer will have you stand on one leg with the other raised about six inches from the ground for a period of thirty seconds. The officer will instruct you to look at your raised foot and count aloud while you perform the test. San Antonio DWI officers and Austin DWI officers are looking for several things while you perform this test.

The officers are judging whether you sway during the test, whether you are able to keep your balance, use your arms for balance, and whether you put your foot down while performing the test. Obviously, this is another test where a number of reasons besides intoxication can cause you to fail the test. Anyone who has had foot, ankle, knee, hip or back injuries is unlikely to be able to properly perform this test. Age is also a huge factor in whether you can perform this test. Another common complaint is that people wearing shoes with heels do not have the same ability to perform this test as those wearing sneakers or flat bottomed shoes.
You are not required to perform any of these tests on the roadside or anywhere else. There is no law that punishes you for refusing to perform these tests. Neither the Texas Implied Consent law, nor the No Refusal Weekends initiative apply to the field sobriety tests. If you get stopped in Austin, call an Austin DWI attorney at 512-278-0935 before agreeing to perform these tests. If you are stopped in San Antonio, call a San Antonio DWI attorney at 210-394-3833 before performing the tests.

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