A field sobriety test is performed by a police officer. They do this when they believe the suspect is intoxicated.  Most of us are generally good people.  We feel that police only arrest criminals.  Had a few drinks? Are you driving? Speeding? Are your tags current? You now see police lights behind you. What happens next?

The police officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test. You will be arrested.  As an attorney, my advice is that you politely refuse to undergo the test.  There are many reasons that you will fail the test.  Very few of them have anything to do with intoxication.

Field Sobriety Test

What is a field sobriety test? In Texas, the police use testing to determine if you are intoxicated.  The Tests include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus the officer will watch your eyes to see if they follow an object smoothly or have a jerking motion.  Tired, lights distracting your vision or a number of other issues, you will fail this test.
  • Walk and Turn is where the officer will have you walk ten steps heel to toe, turn and walk back.  If you are unable to walk smoothly in the dark, you will fail.
  • One-Leg Stand test requires that you lift one foot six inches for thirty seconds.  I dare most people to try this right now in their home or office.  Most of us cannot do it.


I recently had a conversation with a client about refusing to take the field sobriety test.  He asked “why refuse. I’m arrested either way?”  I explained. The difference is between being arrested and convicted.  The key is to avoid a conviction. 

It is all about evidence.  If there is a video of how you failed part or all of the field sobriety test, the state will use it against you.  If there is no video, it is harder for them to prove intoxication.


When the police ask you to perform a field sobriety test.  Politely refuse.  Contact you DWI attorney right away.  Your defense will need immediate attention.