If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DWI, he or she will start assessing you to determine if you are intoxicated upon reaching your vehicle. Does your breath smell of alcohol? Are your eyes red? Is your speech slurred? If so, the office will most likely ask you to step out of the car and take a “field sobriety test.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized three field sobriety tests (FSTs): The one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). While these tests have been studied and shown to be accurate to some extent in determining inebriation, they have some significant weaknesses.
There are a variety of issues which can affect your ability to perform these tests--even if you are completely sober. Physical disabilities, neurological disorders, common illnesses, restrictive clothing, uneven terrain, and poor weather can have an impact on the results of these tests.
So can you refuse to take a field sobriety test?
Simply put, yes.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Texas and you know you’ve been drinking, it is in your best interest to refuse to perform the tests since there are so many other factors besides your level of intoxication which could have an impact on the results. You have the right to decline to take any physical tests during a traffic stop. Your performance on these tests can be used against you in court, so it is wise to provide the prosecution with as little evidence against you as possible.
Additionally, you are also not required to submit to a preliminary breath test. However, if someone is lawfully arrested for a DWI in Texas and refuses to submit to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, they will face administrative penalties in addition to the standard penalties for DWI.