Field sobriety tests are vital to keeping Dallas’s roads safe. When police pull over a suspicious driver or feel that a driver they’re interacting with may be under the influence, they will use these tests to gauge the person’s physical and mental capabilities.
As sobriety tests vary greatly, both in difficulty and in the skills they test, officers will typically use multiple ones in order to fully assess the driver. This could include two, three, four or even five different tests, depending on how the driver performs and how they’re acting.
If the driver is unable to complete these tests properly, the officer will arrest them on suspicion of DWI and take them to the police station for booking. This keeps them off the road for at least the next day or two, and it ensures they’re not endangering other drivers, passengers or pedestrians as a result of their intoxication. Who knows just how many DWI car accidents our Dallas police officers have prevented by catching drunk drivers before they hurt or kill someone – including themselves!
But what exactly are these sobriety tests that suspected DWI drivers are put through? Are they difficult enough to catch every person driving under the influence? Are they doing enough to keep our roads safe? Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used ones now:
- Nystagmus – This is the sobriety test that almost every Dallas police officer will start with. They stand in front of the suspected DWI driver and hold up a pen or pencil in front of their face. Then, they will move the finger or pencil left, right, up and down, watching the driver’s eyes. If their eyes track smoothly (meaning they easily follow the finger without jumping or trembling), they may be sober. If the driver is unable to follow the finger smoothly though, it usually indicates they are intoxicated to some degree.
- Walk and Turn – You’ve probably seen this one in movies a lot. Here’s how it works: The DWI driver is asked to walk X amount of steps – heel to toe, across a straight line. Once they’ve done that, they need to turn around on the line and walk straight back, using the same number of steps. If the driver wavers from the line, gets off balance or loses track of their step count, the officer will suspect intoxication.
- Finger to Nose – You’ve probably seen this one in the media, too. The suspected DWI driver is simply asked to stand straight – with their feet together, arms out and eyes closed. They’ll then need to touch each index finger to their nose, one at a time, without falling or losing their balance. These are both signs are driver may be drunk.
- Stand on One Leg – For this test, the police officer will ask the DWI driver to place their hands at their sides, lift one foot off the ground, and hold it elevated for 30 seconds (they’ll need to count it out, too.) Any sign of falling, swaying or getting off balance means the driver is most likely under the influence.
- Rhomberg Test – Technically a test of balance, this test also gives the officer a chance to assess the driver’s muscular reactions, as well as their perception skills. Here’s what the officer will ask the driver to do: First, they’ll need to stand completely straight with their eyes closed. Then, they’ll need to tilt their head all the way back, face toward the sky, and estimate how long 30 seconds is. During this time, the officer will be looking for a few things: 1) Any muscle spasms that could indicate the influence of alcohol, 2) issues with balance and 3) a slowed perception of time, if their estimate of 30 seconds is significantly off.
Each of these tests is designed to test both physical and mental alertness. The failure to pass any of them is a very likely sign that the driver is drunk and guilty of a DWI.
Unfortunately, even with these tests, police officers aren’t able to catch every drunk driver. DWI car accidents still occur on freeways and in quiet neighborhoods alike. If you or a loved one is ever injured because of a drunk driver, contact the Dallas DWI lawyers at Franklin Law Firm right away. We stand for a safer community, and we’re here to help you and your loved ones.