Field sobriety test Austin. Have you been detained by a Texas law enforcement officer under suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI)? Were you asked to take a standardized field sobriety test and arrested for DWI afterward? Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are tools arresting officers use to determine if a driver is impaired due to being intoxicated. If you were arrested based on these tests, but were not impaired at the time, you will likely want to fight the charges against you. Read on to learn more about SFSTs.

What is a Standardized Field Sobriety Test?

A standardized field sobriety test (SFST) is a set of assessment protocols used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver might be too impaired to drive; they are used to establish probable cause for a DWI arrest. There are several SFSTs law enforcement officers can administer; however, only three of the tests are officially recognized and accepted for use by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  1. the one-leg stand test
  2. the walk-and-turn test, and
  3. the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Law enforcement officers must be trained and certified in order to perform SFSTs. They learn what signs to look for that might indicate driver impairment; those clues point to their inability to drive a motor vehicle safely. They use SFST results to establish probable cause for an arrest, which is important because the police must have evidence validating any arrest when the driver poses a threat to public safety.

Problems with Standard Field Sobriety Tests

Even though SFSTs are used often, they can be problematic. SFSTs must be administered according to a particular procedure to ensure validity. If a law enforcement officer does not follow the procedure, the results of the tests can be inaccurate and, therefore, unreliable. This is one reason that people decide to challenge DWI charges in many cases–SFST administration errors can be key when it comes to an individual’s defense.

Another reason SFSTs can be problematic is that there are concerns about the accuracy of the tests themselves. Though NHTSA approves of three SFSTs, the tests can be inaccurate–if the person suspected of DWI has a lack of natural coordination or a medical condition, those things could interfere and the test could yield inaccurate results. Further, in cases where environmental conditions impact test performance can also cause inaccuracies, especially when the driver taking the test is anxious and stressed.

Fighting Back Against a Standardized Field Sobriety Test Failure

If you were stopped, given SFSTs, and arrested and charged with DWI based on the results of the tests, you may be able to contest those charges. Field sobriety experts, many of whom retired from law enforcement, often repudiate SFSTs. They say that the testing methods used to assess impairment due to intoxication are too subjective; and many believe that some arresting officers assess an individual as impaired, even when the test results are questionable. Challengers of SFSTs say officers often reach incorrect conclusions regarding impairment, invalidating the test results.

Field sobriety test Austin. If you are facing DWI charges following a failed standardized field sobriety test and need assistance in Austin, Texas or the surrounding area, you should consider engaging the services of a reputable attorney for legal representation in your case. Attorney Brian Erskine is a competent and skilled defense attorney with experience handling many DWI cases. He consistently achieves success in cases of all kinds. Contact Erskine Law online to discuss the details of your case.