John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
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Are field sobriety tests required?

You, like many other people, like to indulge yourself every now and then with a couple of drinks with friends. You always make sure to remain responsible with your drinking habits and never want to put anyone else in danger due to your actions. Of course, even if you do not feel intoxicated, a police officer may still have suspicions about your state of sobriety.

Even if an officer does not stop your vehicle because he or she initially thinks you are intoxicated, probable cause for the stop, like a broken tail light, may exist. After making the stop, the officer may then ask whether you have had any alcoholic beverages or other similar questions. You may immediately feel your pulse begin to quicken, and before you know it, the officer has asked you to step out of the vehicle.

Field sobriety tests

After asking you to get out of the car, the police officer may also ask that you perform certain actions known as field sobriety tests. These tests include the following:

  • One-leg stand
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk-and-turn

These tests generally focus on your balance and whether your body may show signs of impairment. Your first instinct when asked to perform any of these tests may be to follow the officer's instructions in hopes of not making the situation worse. However, you may also have concerns that your general clumsiness or other issues could make you appear intoxicated when you are not.

Refusing tests

If you do not wish to incriminate yourself, you may find it helpful to know that you do not have to participate in field sobriety tests. These tests can often help officers gather evidence against you or give them cause to take you into custody for DUI, but when an officer requests these tests, you can refuse. Declining to participate may help you avoid providing this type of field evidence, but it may not necessarily prevent an officer from taking you into custody.

In the event that you do face a DUI charge, you have the ability to create and present a criminal defense against the allegation. Even if it is the first time you face a charge, your future could hinge on your defense. Therefore, you may want to do your best to understand your available legal options, and utilizing local Houston legal resources may be wise.

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John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
4900 Woodway Drive, Suite 745
Houston, Texas 77056

Toll Free: 888-386-4503
Phone: 713-581-1789
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