Do I Have to Take the Field Sobriety Tests?

November 7, 2019

In the course of a traffic stop, an officer may say, “Sir/ma’am, I’m going to ask you now to follow me over here. I’m going to do some tests to check if you’re okay to drive.” Those dreaded words often preface field sobriety tests for a DWI. You’ve seen them on cop shows or heard about them, but if a law enforcement officer asks you to perform them, what are your options? This article will explore your legal rights and capabilities under Texas law if an officer ever stops you for a DWI.

What Is a Field Sobriety Test?

A field sobriety test is an assessment used by law enforcement officers throughout Texas and across the country to determine a driver’s level of impairment. The creators of these tests did not design them with the subject in mind, meaning the tests are flawed and unfair. The following are three examples of standard field sobriety tests officers use:

  • Walk-and-Turn - You must walk an imaginary straight line, heel to toe, without tipping over, coming off the line, or falling to the ground, in addition to a complex list of instructions you’re required to remember perfectly. 
  • field sobriety test refusalHGN Eye Test - You must follow an officer’s stimulus, like their finger or pen, using just your eyes and not moving your head.
  • One-Leg Stand - You must stand on one leg for 30 seconds without dropping the leg to the ground, using your arms for balance, or hopping.

Not Legally Required to Take the Tests

Texas law does not legally require you to submit to a field sobriety test when stopped by an officer for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. You are well within your rights to refuse this assessment. However, make sure you do so in a polite manner. Don’t start grandstanding that you know the law or your rights, and refrain from saying you read the blog about this topic on your attorney’s website. None of this will go over well with the officer. Also, remember a dashcam in the officer’s car and a body cam on the officer will record the entire exchange.

Can I Be Arrested?

Yes, officers can arrest you for refusing to take a field sobriety test. Why? The officer already felt that he or she had enough evidence for administering the test, so they will use this evidence as a reason to place you under arrest. However, if an officer arrests you after refusing to submit to the field sobriety tests, there is less evidence against you for the officer to submit to the prosecutor assigned to the case.

what is a field sobriety testShould I Submit to the Tests if I Didn’t Drink Too Much?

You may submit to the tests if you wish. You know your body better than anyone else. However, be mindful that even though you might feel fine, you could appear intoxicated when they review the video from the dashcam. Even with only one drink in your system over the last five hours, it’s still a good idea to deny the officer’s request for a field sobriety test. These tests can be very difficult for even a completely sober person to pass. 


Arrested for DWI? Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for a DWI, you need to speak to an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney. Flood & Associates has a full staff of professional DWI attorneys that know how to handle field sobriety test questioning and the consequences of refusal. Enlist the services of a law office who will fight tirelessly for your rights. Call our team 24/7, 365 at 713-224-5529 for a free case review.



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