Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in Texas?

When the police pull you over under the suspicion of DWI, you can expect the officers to ask you for your driver’s license, car registration, or proof of insurance and a few questions about where you’ve been or are going and if you’ve been drinking. If they still suspect drunk driving, they may ask you to exit your vehicle and perform one or more field sobriety tests (FSTs).

The following are the three field sobriety tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test – Officers will ask you to look at an object (e.g. small flashlight or pen) and follow it with your eyes—not your head—when slowly moving left and right. The police are looking for involuntary jerking of the eyes, which occurs more frequently when you are intoxicated.
  • The one-leg stand test – Officers will ask you to stand on one foot for 30 seconds while the other is about six inches off the ground. They will watch if you put your foot down, use your arms to balance, hop, or sway.
  • Walk-and-turn test – Officers will ask you to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, in a straight line. At the ninth step, you must turn around on one foot and walk nine steps once again. They will watch to see if you can obey orders, count each step, stay in a straight line, and maintain your balance.

Unfortunately, FSTs are not designed for you to pass. After an officer establishes probable cause, these tests are typically used to gather more evidence of impairment against you to be used in court.

In addition, FSTs contain several issues that affect your ability to perform these tests—even if you are completely sober. Common issues include uneven or rocky terrain, poor weather, restrictive clothing, poor footwear, physical disabilities, and other medical conditions.

Although the officer may not ask for your permission to take an FST, you have the right to refuse. Make sure you politely refuse by informing the officer that you do not wish to submit to a field sobriety test.

While you may still be arrested for DWI, your refusal cannot be used against you—unlike refusing a post-arrest blood or breath test. Furthermore, the police will have less evidence to give to the prosecutor.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DWI in Fort Worth, contact Goza & Carreras, Attorneys at Law today at (817) 402-2188 and schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.