What are field sobriety tests?

As a driver, you should familiarize yourself with the law regarding driving while intoxicated in Texas. If you receive a DWI conviction, it could limit your future. So, you should familiarize yourself with field sobriety tests. 

What are they? How likely are you to experience them? 

Standardized vs. non-standardized tests

AAA examines the field sobriety tests that you may experience. There are two primary categories: standardized and non-standardized. You are less likely to see non-standardized tests such as touching your finger to your nose or reciting the alphabet backward. They do not hold as much weight in court because of the potential for officer bias to skew the results. 

Standardized field sobriety tests have a smaller chance of bias. There is a universal rubric by which all officers must judge these three tests, unlike non-standardized tests, and they have a scientific basis. Standardized tests include: 

  • The walk and turn 
  • The one-legged stand 
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus 

Primary purpose of field sobriety tests

All three tests check for the alcohol’s potential physical effects on your body. The first two test your balance, mobility and agility, as well as your ability to remember and follow instructions. The third looks at the nystagmus, a natural waver in the eye that worsens after the introduction of alcohol. 

Note that even if you fail a field sobriety test, the outcome is not conclusive. While officers use these tests as a tool, it is often to determine if they have probable cause to arrest or if they should conduct other tests. Due to the unreliable nature of these tests, it is unusual to see them used as evidence.