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Texas drunk driving: Field sobriety testing, must one comply?

Texas residents who are suspected of driving while impaired will likely be pulled over by law enforcement and asked to perform field sobriety tests. What are these tests and why are they used to check for drunk driving? Is one required to comply with an officer's demands?

There are many different tests that law enforcement officers might use to check for impairment. Only three of them, though, are considered standard and endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those three are:

  • The walk-and-turn test
  • The one-leg stand test
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus

The purpose of each of these tests is two-fold. One, an officer is looking for one's ability to listen to and follow directions. Two, they test one's physical ability. These particular tests are used to check for impairment because they are simple tasks that one who is not impaired should be able to do with no issue, supposedly.

The holder of a Texas driver's license automatically agrees to abide by state driving laws. Technically, one is not legally required to comply with an officer's requests to submit to field sobriety testing, but refusing does have consequences. One can still be arrested and charged, which can affect one's license and even result in spending time in jail.

All Texas residents need to know that they have rights when they are pulled over as drunk driving suspects. Defending oneself for refusing to comply with an officer's demands can prove challenging, however. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist one who is facing a DUI charge for refusing to submit to these tests. With assistance, legal actions can be pursued that will help one minimize any consequences associated with exercising one's right to refuse.

Source: FindLaw, "Can I Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests?", Accessed on June 7, 2017

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