I’m often asked what do when pulled over for a DWI stop. Today will be Part 1 of my series on DWI stops. Let’s start with the basics.
In Texas the law only provides a penalty for refusing a breath or blood test request. That penalty is a longer suspension of your driver’s license. We will talk about the breath test in the future.
Today we are going to discuss the Standard Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (I want you to follow my pen with your eyes and not your head) the One Leg Stand and Walk and Turn.
You are under NO obligation to perform any of these field sobriety tests. There should be no penalty for refusing these arbitary and subjective field tests. After all we are presumed innocent and the 5th Amendment is supposed to protect us from self incrimination, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, the price you pay for this exercise in freedom is that you will get arrested and this refusal will be evidence against you in court. Right after you respectfully refuse to perform the tests the police officer will ask you to put your hands behind your back.
The 5th Amendment used to say that you can never be compelled to testify agaisnt yourself. Fortunately for the MADD crowd, the Court of Criminal Appeals has decided that performing field sobriety tests do not invoke a right to counsel or the right to remain silent.
When you refuse the field sobriety test the officer will say something like “Don’t you want the chance to show you are not intoxicated?” Of course you want that chance. But you will not get it from a police officer. You only get that chance in court.
Before you get a chance at justice you are first thrown in jail, usually in the drunk tank, you spend the night will real criminals, spend money on bail, spend more money on a lawyer to fight your driver’s license suspension and defend your case.
Hopefully many months and court appearances later you can get a the case dismissed or found not guilty. The police often say that you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.