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Understanding DUI Tests

Walker Law Office July 8, 2022

Handcuff, Glass of Alcohol and Car KeyThey say everything is bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, that’s not always a compliment to Texas communities. According to a recent US DUI Report, Texas ranks as the 5th highest state in drunk driving severity. Only Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and North Dakota rank worse in DUI statistics. In an effort to reduce these alcohol-related crimes, Texas prosecutors take DUIs very seriously. 

If you or someone you know is facing Texas charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), it’s natural to feel frustrated or even overwhelmed. It is critical that you learn how to best protect your rights. Understanding DUI tests is an essential step in preserving the best possible outcome in your situation.

Contact a DUI attorney at Walker Law Office in Houston as soon as you know that you need help. A DUI conviction can negatively impact your life for years to come, so set up a consultation today. The firm is proud to serve clients throughout Houston, as well as throughout Harris, Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend, and Brazoria counties.

Understanding Implied Consent In Texas

If you drive a vehicle in Texas, you automatically consent to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing. Under the Texas Implied Consent Law, operating any type of motor vehicle gives law enforcement the ability to test your blood, breath, saliva, or urine during a legal traffic stop. Refusal to test is within individual rights but will bring consequences.

Blood Alcohol Test Vs Field Sobriety Test

If law enforcement has suspicion that a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving, they will often use a blood alcohol or field sobriety test to gain probable cause for arrest. 

Although there are various ways to administer a blood alcohol test such as blood sample or urine analysis, one of the most frequent methods used to determine whether a driver is intoxicated is through the use of a BAC Breath Test. Breathalyzers are often the preferred method of BAC testing because they are lightweight, portable, and provide immediate results. 

Another method for identifying probable cause for DUI is through a field sobriety test. Unlike blood alcohol tests which are required under the implied consent law, field sobriety tests are not required. Additionally, even if someone is completely sober, the results of a field sobriety test can easily be misleading. Not following or understanding directions quickly enough, lack of precision in physical movements or demonstrations, and mental mistakes or errors can lead to an inaccurate assumption of alcohol impairment. 

Types Of Sobriety Tests

During a traffic stop where law enforcement suspects DUI, officers will generally administer up to three separate field sobriety tests to assess alcohol impairment. 

  1. The Horizontal Gaze — The officer asks the individual to follow a finger or object without moving their head or body. The officer notes the angle that the suspect's eyes begin to exhibit nystagmus (the involuntary jerking of the eye). 

  2. The Walk and Turn — During the walk and turn test, the office gauges a person's ability to walk heel to toe in a straight line for nine consecutive steps, turn around, and do the same in the opposite direction. Officers assess physical balance, counting and sequence, turning and rotating the body, and keeping the feet in a straight line. 

  3. The One-Legged Stand — The one-legged stand evaluates alcohol impairment by a person's ability to count and maintain balance. Keeping their hands by their side, an individual is asked to raise one foot, maintain eye contact on their foot, and count forwards until the officer tells them to stop. 

Often, the anxiety a field sobriety test creates can be enough to make them unreliable. It’s vital to contact an attorney if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated at a DUI stop.

Consequences Of Refusal

Remember, the implied consent law requires licensed drivers to submit to BAC testing, but not field sobriety testing. Here is what happens next after refusing BAC testing during a traffic stop:

Refusing officers may lead to more vigorous pursuit 

Although law enforcement should strive to remain polite and courteous, they may take offense when an individual refuses to cooperate and work twice as hard to secure a charge.

The suspect will most likely still have to get properly tested

When refusing a BAC test during a traffic stop, the officer may transport the individual back to the station for additional testing. Although these tests can also be refused, it may most likely solidify a DUI conviction. In court, a judge or jury will typically maintain the position that when a person refuses to take any type of BAC test, they only did so because they knew they were guilty of driving drunk.  

Driving privileges are automatically revoked

When an individual adheres to implied consent, DMV often reviews the case and determines the appropriate license suspension. When a person refuses BAC testing, the automatic penalty is a license suspension of 180 days. 

Previous offenses make things much worse

For those with prior DUI convictions, additional penalties may be imposed such as court ordered treatment programs, steep fines, lengthy license suspension, or jail time. 

Legal Advocacy You Can Trust

Even though everyone makes mistakes, a DUI conviction can have a lasting impact on an individual's freedom, finances, employment opportunities, and personal relationships. Refusing DUI tests can complicate a case and bring additional penalties that may have otherwise been avoided. When this happens, strong legal advocacy is a must.

At Walker Law Office, Mekisha Jane Walker has the experience to overcome these hurdles and provide aggressive and personalized criminal defense. Walker Law Office serves clients in Houston, Texas, and throughout Harris, Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend, and Brazoria counties. Set up a consultation today.