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The role of field sobriety tests in a DWI traffic stop

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Many driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges in Texas are the result of traffic stops. Sometimes, drivers fail chemical tests after causing crashes and get arrested. Much of the time, it is a police officer’s suspicion that ultimately leads to DWI charges. 

When an officer first pulls you over, they will ask you a couple of questions. Depending on how you answer or how they interpret your behavior, they may ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test.

What role does a field sobriety test play in a DUI traffic stop?

Field sobriety tests provide probable cause and evidence

Unless you openly admit that you are intoxicated while talking to the police, they cannot just arrest you based on their suspicions. Instead, they have to establish probable cause for an arrest or request chemical testing.

The way that you perform during a field sobriety test can give an officer a reason to ask you to perform a chemical breath test. They can use the results of that test combined with your performance of the different field sobriety test tasks as evidence to justify your arrest and to bring charges against you in court.

Field sobriety tests are not foolproof

People can perform poorly on a field sobriety test for a number of different reasons. They may have medical issues or anxiety that affects how they behave in front of the police.

Unfortunately, police officers are unlikely to take your alternative explanations very seriously during a traffic stop. They may still arrest you, and you will then have to prove why you performed poorly on a field sobriety test to defend yourself in court.

Understanding how police build DWI charges in Texas can help you plan your defense.