Law and Procedure in a DUI Stop – Field Sobriety Tests
People always ask “What are the police allowed to do on a DUI stop?” and it’s a really good question. The most important answer is that the Texas police officers, who stop you, must follow DUI law and procedure when pulling your car over or performing field sobriety tests. The state of Texas has instituted DUI laws to protect both the general public and the accused offender when and if a DUI arrest should occur. Police officers must have a valid reason (probable cause) to pull your car over and must conduct the investigation in accordance with the law. There are several reasons an arresting officer may claim warrant probable cause:
- Driving excessively fast or slow
- Rolling through stop signs
- Ignoring traffic lights
- Burnt-out headlights
- Vehicle damage, i.e., cracked windshield, dents
Keep in mind that none of these things directly proves a DUI. That being said, it is good advice to keep your vehicle maintained to avoid unnecessary stops.
How an Officer Tries to Make a DUI Arrest
Following the DUI stop, the officer will move to further prove his or her suspicion that you are intoxicated by implementing certain field sobriety tests:
- One-leg stand test
- Walk-and-turn test
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (the officer will watch for jerking motions in your eyes as you shift your gaze)
The officer will be looking for slurred speech and other uncoordinated movements to justify a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, such as a breathalyzer. The officer’s interpretation of these field sobriety tests is highly subjective—and there are several people who cannot pass these tests sober.
Most officers have video equipment in their patrol cars. Ask them to turn it on so that there is solid evidence of your field sobriety tests. When the officer’s decisions to make a DUI arrest come under scrutiny, there is little that is more convincing to a judge and jury than a video recording.