Field sobriety tests are a series of three physical tests a police officer may use to assess your level of intoxication if you get pulled over. Consisting of tests involving eye movement, standing on one leg and walking in a straight line, these are usually followed by a breath or chemical test if you fail one or more of them (by displaying certain indicators of impairment).
However, field sobriety tests are not completely accurate. A number of variables can result in a “false positive.”
What contributes to the inaccuracy of these tests?
One major cause of false positives is that the tests are subjective. They rely on the police officer’s judgment. Even with training, there is a great deal of room for error. They may also not give directions correctly, or you may have difficulty following their directions, leading to them believing you failed because of intoxication.
There are also factors that may cause you to exhibit similar symptoms to if you had alcohol or drugs in your blood. These include pre-existing illnesses, dry eye, exhaustion, anxiety or a poor emotional state. If you feel dizzy or unwell, you can stumble or wobble, but those are also signs that police officers watch for.
What can you do when asked to do a field sobriety test?
You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test in Texas but not without consequences. The police can still arrest you (and may do so just because of your refusal) and you face a license suspension. The results of the test can act as evidence against you even if false. You can appeal the suspension.
A police officer may ask you to do a field sobriety test if he or she suspects you of driving while under the influence. The test has its flaws, but refusal carries a penalty and requires careful consideration.