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Do I have to take field sobriety tests if I get stopped?

Longview, Texas, residents, even those who have never been stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, are probably aware of what the legal community calls "field sobriety tests." These are a battery of tests, often checking a person's ability to maintain their balance, that an officer will give a driver on the side of the road. The idea behind the tests is that if someone is not able to complete them and instead must, for example, constantly regain one's balance while standing on one foot, it is a sign the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Although they are a typical part of a DWI investigation, it is important for Texas residents to remember that, legally, they do not have to take any of these tests. While whether or not someone should refuse to take these test in their given circumstances is really a question best answered by an attorney, a Texas resident will generally have to decide to refuse in the heat of the moment.

The decision usually hinges on balancing the importance of cooperating with the authorities against the fact that field sobriety tests often wind up making it harder for a person to avoid or mitigate drunk driving charges. Some even suggest that the tests are designed to produce incriminating evidence that the police can later use against a suspect.

As a word of caution, refusing to take field sobriety tests does not mean that a person can also refuse a certified breath or blood test without some negative consequences, as Texas has an implied consent law on the books. Moreover, not taking field sobriety tests does not mean that an officer cannot go forward with a DWI arrest.

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