If a Texas police officer has ever pulled you over in a traffic stop, you know how stressful such situations can be. In fact, your heart might start racing as soon as you see flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. It's understandable, as there's no way to predict how such situations will play out. The officer who approaches your driver's side window might merely ask to see your license and vehicle registration information, then issue you a warning and send you along.
Then again, if he or she suspects you have been drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol, it might be quite some time before you are free to leave the scene. If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you can bet that he or she suspects you of impaired driving or some other crime. This is why it's so important to know your rights and how to exercise them.
Tests you don't want to fail
Even if a Texas police officer thinks you have been drinking and driving, he or she can't arrest you without probable cause, meaning evidence that substantiates the suspicion. One of the most common ways police search for probable cause is by administering field sobriety tests. The following list includes critical facts you should know:
- You are under no legal or administrative obligations to submit to a field sobriety test. You may refuse to comply.
- There are typically three types of field tests police use to determine if they have probable cause to arrest you for suspected DUI.
- Police use all the tests to closely observe your behavior and determine whether you are acting like a sober person or someone whose blood alcohol content level may be beyond the limit that allows him or her to legally operate a motor vehicle.
- One of the tests is to check your eye movements as you track an object from left to right or up and down. If your eyes jerk before they've reached their maximum peripheral vision point, the officer is likely to fail you.
- If you consider yourself a clumsy person, you'll want to beware of the field sobriety tests that measure your balance and agility. The one-leg stance and the walk-and-turn test can be challenging for sober people, much less clumsy people who may appear intoxicated if they can't perform well.
- The officer's personal opinion factors into the situation. If he or she thinks your balance sways or that you did not walk a straight path, you may wind up behind bars in a county jail.
While you don't have to take a field sobriety test if a police officer asks you to do so, many think it's best to comply. If you later face charges, prosecutors can use the fact that you refused the field tests to their advantage in court. If police arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving, try to stay calm, cooperate and be polite as best you can, and know how to exercise your civil rights, such as remaining silent until a legal advocate is present on your behalf.