Impairments can make it difficult to pass a field sobriety test

The repercussions of DWI penalties in Texas have the potential to affect a person for years, impacting the ability to get or keep a job, attend school or function in society without restrictions. For these reasons, it can be especially devastating to someone who is facing false drunk driving charges.

One of the most common ways to be charged for drinking and driving, despite not having had anything to drink, is by failing a field sobriety test. These tests are often used by law enforcement to screen for drivers who appear to be intoxicated, especially during the upcoming holiday season. While conducting a field sobriety test, officers use their own judgment to determine whether to arrest someone on suspicion of drunk driving. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these tests to be conducted improperly or for people to fail a test due to a number of factors.

the physical and cognitive challenges of a field sobriety test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines the Standardized Field Sobriety Test as a battery of physical actions that measure a person's balance and behavior, and can assist law enforcement in determining if the subject is intoxicated. These activities involve balancing on one foot for a specified amount of time as well as walking in a straight line and then turning to walk back in the opposite direction. Signs of intoxication may include holding the arms out for balance, swaying, hopping or putting the other foot down.

However, it can be difficult for some sober people to pass a field sobriety test, says ABC Action News. Senior citizens or people with physical or mental impairments may have trouble balancing or walking in a straight line. Additionally, some people can have speech impediments that mimic the slurred speech of intoxication.

drunk driving penalties in texas

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the consequences of a DWI conviction are harsh. Those with a first-time conviction can face the following intoxication charges:

  • A jail sentence that can last anywhere from a few days to 180
  • Fine of not more than $2,000
  • Loss of driver's license for up to twelve months
  • Driver's license reinstatement fee of up to $2,000 each year for three years

For a second or subsequent conviction, jail times can increase, fines may double and the driver will be required to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle.

an attorney can help

If you're facing drunk driving charges, you will need to ensure your rights are protected. An experienced DWI defense attorney can advise you on what will happen during each step of your case, as well as make sure you are treated fairly in court.