When a police officer pulls a Texas driver over on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she may not have sufficient evidence to perform an arrest. Instead, the officer may continue to seek evidence during the traffic stop. One way police officers try to gather additional evidence of intoxication is to put a driver through a series of trials known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). There are three possibilities: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer asks the driver to follow, using only his or her eyes, a slowly-moving object, like a fingertip or a pen. The officer looks for signs of involuntary twitching or jerking in the eyes or an inability to focus on the moving object. Although alcohol can increase these symptoms, so can other factors, like certain medications or flashing lights.
In the walk and turn test, the officer asks the driver to walk heel to toe on a straight line, turn, and walk back. The officer looks for wobbling, loss of balance, failure to walk heel to toe or stay on the line. Drivers who are walking on uneven ground, on an imaginary line, or in high-heeled shoes typically have greater trouble completing this test, whether or not they are sober.
In the one-leg stand test, the officer asks the driver to stand on one foot with the other foot raised off the ground for about 30 seconds. The officer looks for wobbling or failure to keep the raised foot in position. Like the walk and turn test, uneven ground or difficult shoes make this test difficult for nearly everyone.
If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, don’t wait. Call the experienced Austin, Texas criminal defense attorneys at Peek & Toland, L.L.P. We will fight to protect your legal rights to the fullest possible extent while also pursuing the best possible outcome in your case. For a free and confidential case evaluation, contact us today at (512) 474-4445.