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Houston DWI Defense Lawyer

Successfully Challenging the "Standardized Feld Sobriety Tests"

If you are reading this page, it is likely you were administered some combination of "field sobriety tests" and the officers determined you "failed," which is why you were arrested for DWI. You're not alone. All of our clients "fail" - that's why they became clients. Fortunately for our clients, not all prosecutors, judges, and juries agree with the police officer's opinion after having it challenged by me.

Don't take an officer's word for it. Don't let a Court. An experienced DWI lawyer should know these tests inside and out; including their proper administration, their proper scoring, their inherent bias, and should be able to challenge them in Court. Don't give up hope. Although the forces against you may seem daunting, remember - "knowledge is power" and "experience counts."

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

A "field sobriety test" is a series of physical actions that a law enforcement officer has a motorist perform when they have been stopped for suspicion of DWI. These actions are supposedly designed to establish whether or not the motorist is intoxicated by exposing any physical symptoms that are commonly found in those who are. Field sobriety tests can vary depending on the agency pulling the motorist over, but there are three tests for that are considered "validated" and standardized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and are usually administered in all states, including Texas. These are the:

  • Walk-and-Turn (W&T)- The motorist is asked to walk nine steps heel-to-toe, and then turn around in a unique way and walk back to their starting point in the same fashion.
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) - The motorist is asked to stand on one leg for a specified period of time while counting out loud until told to stop.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - The motorist is asked to follow an item (usually a pen) using only their eyes while the officer looks for involuntary jerking movements of the eyes.

Are field sobriety tests reliable? No!

The above descriptions appear simple and straightforward, however the tests are not. Even if one concedes the validity of the three tests above, which, in my opinion, no competent DWI defense attorney would, officers often administer and score the tests improperly and unfairly. I have cross examined many police officers who arrested my client who don't know or don't follow the guidelines in their own training materials.

Moreover, the "validation studies," supporting the use of these tests are subject to a substantive attack. For example, in the past few years, NHTSA's own robustness study of the HGN test demonstrated that officers were about as likely to score people with BACs substantially below as above .08 with all six possible clues. Unfortunately, officers continue to use these three tests and others that are neither "standardized" nor "validated." Yet these are the tests that thousands of Texas arrests are based upon, and juries asked to rely upon, every year.

Officers taught to administer these tests are also trained how to testify about them in the same NHTSA manuals and courses. Unfortunately, due to this training and their experience testifying in many trials, they appear credible and authoritative to jurors, who don't know the officer is a professional witness. But this training and experience can be effectively countered by experienced cross-examination. Your trial shouldn't be your lawyer's first DWI rodeo.

In the event that you have been arrested for DWI after failing a field sobriety test, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is willing to aggressively challenge these tests on your behalf.

DWI Defense Lawyer in Houston

Looking for an attorney for a drunk driving case? The Law Offices of Q. Tate Williams, P.C. is ready and available to provide you with legal help in your DWI case. I, Tate Williams, have been practicing law for more than a decade, and have tried many types of criminal cases, including those involving DWI to successful results. If you have been arrested for DWI due to a field sobriety test, I can challenge the test results on your behalf, and fight for an acquittal or dismissal of the charges against you. With my help, your legal proceedings may be concluded in a manner that is very favorable to you.

Have you been arrested for DWI after taking a field sobriety test? If so, contact a lawyer from my firm who can provide you with legal defense and challenge your test results in court.


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Law Offices of Q. Tate Williams, P.C. - Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston
Located at 3730 Kirby Drive, Suite 250 Houston, TX 77098. View Map
Phone: (888) 245-0409 | Local Phone: (713) 237-0330.
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