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Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in Texas?

Police officer approaches car in traffic stop, Texas DWI lawyer

Standardized field sobriety tests are stacked against you

When police pull over a driver in Texas and suspect impairment, they will conduct an investigation. This usually begins by asking the driver to take a series of field sobriety tests. How the driver performs on these tests plays a big role in determining whether an arrest is made and charges are filed.

But as an experienced DWI lawyer can tell you, the odds are against you – whether or not you are actually impaired.

If a police officer suspects you are impaired, you may be asked to step out of the car. The officer may explain that you will be asked to take some tests. But police likely won’t ask for your permission to conduct the tests. It’s just assumed you will cooperate.

Understanding field sobriety tests

There are three tests that are part of the standardized field sobriety tests used by police across the country:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – In this eye test, the driver will be asked to stand still while the officer checks the driver’s eyes. The officer is looking for involuntary jerking of the eyes, which is a sign of impairment.
  • The Walk and Turn Text (WAT) – In this test, the driver will be asked to walk a straight line from heel to toe, with their arms stretched out, then turn around and walk back. The officer is checking to see if the driver can follow instructions and maintain balance.
  • One Leg Stand test (OLS) – The driver is asked to stand on one leg for 30 seconds. This is also a test of following instructions and balance.

Many factors can affect the results

Your performance will be captured by body cameras and dash cameras. If you fail these tests, that will be used as evidence against you if you are charged with DWI. But these tests are not designed for you to pass. There are multiple problems with these tests that can cause you to “fail.”

For example, the eye test must be conducted with precision, which can be quite difficult on the side of the road. And cameras likely won’t capture what the officer sees.

The walk-and-turn test requires a driver to walk an imaginary line under stressful conditions. For example, weather conditions may make it challenging to perform the tests, or the driver could be fatigued.

The one-leg stand can also be difficult for people to do for a variety of reasons, including fatigue, footwear, or a bad knee. And if the driver doesn’t quite make 30 seconds, too bad.

An experienced DWI defense attorney can fight for your rights

These tests have been challenged and debunked by experts for years but are still used as evidence. So what are your options if you are pulled over and asked to take them?

You can refuse – you do not have to take field sobriety tests.

If you are asked to exit the car, do so. But if the officer starts to administer the tests, politely refuse to take part. It’s important to note that it is possible you may still be arrested for DWI. However, there will be less evidence that can be used against you.

If you are placed under arrest, call an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Amanda Webb has been a criminal defense lawyer in Montgomery County since 2009. She knows the Texas DWI laws. She knows how to create an effective defense strategy.

Learn more about how our law firm can help if you've been charged with DWI. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Can I Get Charged With DWI in Texas If I Blow Under the Legal Limit?

driver blowing into breath test

In Texas, when a person is pulled over and is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, they can be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). But what if your BAC is under the legal limit? You may think you can walk away without penalty, but you could still be faced with a DWI charge.

Why police may pull you over

Law enforcement may stop a vehicle if they spot possible signs that lead them to believe the driver could be under the influence. Some common signs police look for include:

  • Weaving or swerving through traffic
  • Quick acceleration or deceleration
  • Almost crashing into an object, vehicle, or curb.
  • Difficulty staying in a designated lane
  • Turning abruptly
  • Erratic braking
  • Driving without headlights on at night

What happens after I get pulled over?

Upon being stopped by law enforcement, drivers may be subjected to a preliminary breath test (PBT) to determine the presence of alcohol in their system.

The outcome of this initial assessment, however, is inconsequential in relation to further testing. Police officers may also require individuals to participate in field sobriety tests designed to assess the use of their mental and physical abilities.

These evaluations may include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

Despite potentially passing the PBT and having a blood alcohol content below the legal limit, a driver may still be charged with DWI if they fail any field sobriety tests.

Police often look for other signs of impairment

If an individual's normal mental or physical faculties are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, they may be charged with DWI, even without a breath or blood test. This determination is based solely on the observations made by law enforcement officers.

Some of the most common indicators of impairment that police look for include:

  • An odor of alcohol.
  • Slurred speech, mumbling, or difficulty speaking.
  • Bloodshot, watery, or glassy eyes.
  • Unusual or erratic behavior, such as stumbling, swaying, or failing to follow instructions.
  • Poor coordination or difficulty with physical tasks, such as fumbling with license and registration.
  • Confusion, disorientation, or difficulty remembering details.

Failing a breathalyzer test can result in a DWI charge, but this is not necessarily the ONLY way. Under Texas Penal Code Title 10 Chapter 49, if an officer determines your mental and/or physical abilities are impaired with any alcohol or drug content in your system based on the criteria above, you could still face charges even if you blow under the legal limit.

Getting a DWI with a BAC below 0.08

Despite popular belief, breathalyzer tests are not always entirely reliable. In some instances, even if your BAC registers below the legal limit, you may still be arrested and charged with DWI due to the breathalyzer's margin of error.

Texas also operates under a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. That means any BAC reading other than .00 is grounds for a charge.

Commercial drivers are subject to even stricter regulations, with a BAC limit of 0.04. Testing above this limit can result in a DWI charge and a minimum one-year suspension of their commercial driver's license.

Additionally, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a driver is impaired, they may still face DWI charges, regardless of their BAC level. This can occur even if the driver has consumed only a small amount of alcohol or if their impairment is due to prescription medication or other substances.

Get help from a Texas DWI defense attorney.

A DWI conviction can change your life completely. Depending on the severity of the offense, you could be faced with thousands of dollars in fines, the loss of your license, and lengthy jail time. That's why you need an aggressive DWI defense attorney that gets results.

DWI cases can be complicated, but Attorney Amanda Webb has years of experience dealing with all types of DWI cases in Conroe, TX, and the surrounding area. She knows the state and federal laws and has a proven track record of getting the outcomes her clients deserve.

To learn more about how our law firm can help you, contact us today for a free DWI case evaluation.

What Foods Can Give You a False Positive on a Breathalyzer Test?

Driver being subjected to a breathalyzer test by police for suspicion of DWI.

When you're pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), police will often administer a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) level.

But did you know that certain foods and household items can actually give you a false positive on a breathalyzer test?

In Texas, the legal BAC limit is 0.08%, and if a driver's breathalyzer test shows a BAC above that limit, they can be charged with DWI.

If you have been charged with a DWI in Montgomery County, TX, it's important to take it seriously and contact an experienced DWI attorney to learn more about your potential legal options.

Types of foods that can cause a false positive

Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and liquor, will be detected by a breathalyzer. However, there are other foods that contain chemicals that may also be detected by a breathalyzer. For example, many fruits, including cherries, apples, and peaches, can become fermented as they ripen and contain small amounts of alcohol.

Other foods, drinks, and household items that may cause a false positive on a breathalyzer include:

  • Mouthwash: Many types of mouthwash contain high percentages of alcohol, which can register as false positives on breathalyzer tests.
  • Breath Spray: Like mouthwash, many breath freshener sprays contain high amounts of alcohol that can lead to positive readings on breathalyzer devices.
  • Spicy Foods: When consumed, spicy foods can create methane gas in the stomach, which can be mistaken for alcohol by breathalyzer devices.
  • Yeast-Containing Foods: Bread, pastry, pizza, and other baked goods can register positive readings on breathalyzers if yeast-containing food particles are present in the mouth when the test is administered.
  • Fruit Drinks and Other Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Some fermented beverages, such as fruit drinks, kombucha, and energy drinks, can produce minimal amounts of alcohol that can register on breathalyzers.
  • Vinegar: Some types of vinegar, made from wine, contain trace amounts of alcohol that can lead to false positives on breathalyzer tests.
  • Vanilla Extract: According to FDA standards, pure vanilla extract must contain 35% alcohol, which may not cause impairment, but can lead to a positive reading on a breathalyzer test.
  • Low-Carbohydrate Diets: People on low-carb diets may enter a state of ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat for energy. This can create acetone, which can lead to false positives on breathalyzer tests.

It is important to note that these items do not contain enough alcohol to cause impairment, but they can lead to a false positive on a breathalyzer test. In addition to the above, certain types of cough syrups contain high levels of ethyl alcohol. This type of alcohol is not metabolized as quickly as other types of alcohol and can take longer to leave your system. Therefore, it can cause a false positive on a breathalyzer.

Contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer, if you were charged in Montgomery County, TX.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas with potentially serious repercussions. A DWI conviction can lead to jail time, significant fines, probation, community service, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle (that you have to pay for), and other penalties. In addition, depending on the severity of the crime and any prior convictions, a judge may also order suspension or revocation of your driver's license.

The effects of a DWI conviction can also be long-lasting, making it difficult to find a job or housing. Insurance companies may also increase your rates or cancel your policy altogether due to a DWI conviction, and you could be ineligible for certain jobs or educational opportunities because of your conviction.

If you have been charged with a DWI in Montgomery County, Texas, it's important to seek experienced legal advice. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact us for a free consultation.

What To Know About Prescription Medication DWI Arrests

impaired male driver sitting in a car alone at night, in the dark.

It’s common knowledge that drinking too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel can lead to a DWI arrest in Texas. The same can happen when using drugs before getting behind the wheel – even if you have a prescription.

Under Texas state law, DWI charges can be brought if a person is caught driving under the influence of ANY substance or dangerous drug that impairs the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This includes alcohol, illegal drugs – and prescription medication.

What prescription medications can impair the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle? They include Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, antidepressants, barbiturates, and products containing codeine.

A DWI conviction for prescription drugs has consequences

The penalties for a first-time prescription medication DWI offense are the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. These penalties include a maximum fine of $2,000, up to six months in jail, and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.

A prior conviction or aggravating circumstances can mean additional penalties. These include community service, probation, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), mandatory educational courses, and a mandatory treatment program.

Then there are the other consequences. A DWI conviction can affect your ability to get a job, get a loan, rent private housing, and get approved for public housing.

How do police prove a driver is impaired by prescription drugs?

Since breathalyzer tests don’t detect the presence of prescription medications, officers rely heavily on field sobriety tests. The problem is that these tests are very subjective, and poor performance can be explained by many other factors.

If a driver is arrested for DWI based on a field sobriety test, police can request the driver submit to a blood test. While a blood test may detect certain prescription drugs, it is not always effective.

In many cases, police look for evidence of prescription medication because the driver admitted to taking them. If you tell a police officer about taking any prescription medication, pain reliever, sedative, or antidepressant, that statement will be used against you. That’s why it’s important to remain silent until you speak to a DWI defense attorney.

Defending against DWI charges

The fact that you have a valid prescription for medication is not a valid defense. But depending on the circumstances of your case, there are a number of legal strategies that can be used to defend a DWI charge involving prescription medication. They include:

  • Police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull your vehicle over.
  • Police lacked probable cause to arrest you.
  • Test results were inaccurate, or proper procedure was not followed when administering them.
  • Police violated your constitutional rights.

But every case is different. That’s why you need an experienced and aggressive Texas DWI lawyer. Attorney Amanda Webb has been defending clients against criminal charges in Montgomery County since 2009. As a result, she is very familiar with Texas DWI laws and how they apply to the use of prescription medications.

There’s a lot at stake if you’ve been arrested for DWI. Learn more about how we can help. Contact us for a free consultation.

Five Surefire Tips For Avoiding A Holiday DWI

Abstract Background concept of alcoholic beverages and driving.

The holidays are a great time to celebrate! But they are also an especially bad time to drive after you’ve been drinking. The police are very aware that people will be drinking. An experienced DWI lawyer can help you fight charges, but the best thing to do is make sure you don’t get arrested for DWI at all. Here are five tips that are guaranteed to prevent a DWI over the holidays.

1. Don’t drink.

We’ll start with the most obvious. Sure, it’s the holidays, and you want to celebrate with friends and family. What’s the harm of a few drinks? If you’re driving later, you could get pulled over by police, who are looking for drunk drivers this time of year. The harm could be a license suspension, criminal charges, heavy fines, higher insurance rates, and even jail time. Stick to non-alcoholic options until you get home.

2. Ask for a ride.

You went to a party or dinner at someone’s house, and you had too much to drink. Ask someone there who has not been drinking if you could catch a ride home. Or ask a friend or family member ahead of time if they could pick you up if you need a ride home. Just make sure it’s someone you know who will not be drinking that day.

3. Agree on a designated driver.

If you are planning to attend a celebration with other people, choose a designated driver before you go. Maybe you can agree to play that role next time. Be sure it’s someone you know will not give in to pressure to accept a drink if offered. If you’re going somewhere with a cash bar, offer to pay for that person’s non-alcohol drinks.

4. Use Uber or Lyft.

Using a ridesharing service is a great way to ensure the police don’t pull you over on the way home. Make sure you have the app on your phone. Maybe you don’t like the idea of leaving your car at someone’s house or in the parking lot of a bar. But you will enjoy being arrested for DWI even less. It’s not worth the risk.

5. Considering hosting.

When you have people over, you won’t have to drive home. Another option is to book a room with some friends and celebrate at the hotel’s bar or restaurant. If you have a few drinks, you don’t have to worry about a DWI because you won’t be getting behind the wheel that night.

Contact a DWI lawyer for help

A DWI can have consequences beyond a license suspension, fines, and insurance rate hikes. If your job involves driving, it could be at risk. You may not be able to rent a car. Your reputation can be damaged.

If you are arrested for DWI in Texas, you need experienced legal representation. Attorney Amanda Webb has been practicing criminal defense in Montgomery County since 2009. She knows the Texas DWI laws and how the court system works. Her track record of success speaks for itself.

Attorney Webb is ready to fight for your rights. Learn more about how she can help. Contact us for a free consultation.