Defense of charge: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Result: Case Dismissed
My client was a former Peace Officer in between jobs. At approximately 2:23 AM, he was driving around with his girlfriend when a traffic stop was initiated. He was pulled over for speeding (58 MPH in a 45 MPH zone) and failed to stop at a designated point. When the officer made contact with my client, she observed him to have slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol. My client was even accused of avoiding eye contact with the officer during the initial investigation. When questioned if he had consumed any beverages that night, my client responded that he had not. Then the officer requested my client to perform SFSTs or Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
In Texas, DWI cases rely heavily on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The tests are an obstacle course designed for someone to fail and help provide officers with probable cause to arrest someone under suspicion of DWI. Prosecutors rely on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to provide arguments that the defendant was intoxicated and the time of driving.
There are three standardized field sobriety tests in Texas. The (NHSTA) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration implements these tests as a series of tests for law enforcement to qualify signs of intoxication and determine if there is probable cause to arrest an individual under suspicion of DWI.
The three Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) administered are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and the One-Leg Stand (OLS).
DWI – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test
Officers are looking for three clues during the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test:
- Lack of smooth pursuit: when the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly.
- Distinct and sustained at maximum deviation: this occurs if jerking is distinctly noticeable when the eye is looking as far to the side as it can (maximum deviation).
- Onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees: occurs when the jerking begins when the eye is within 45 degrees of center.
DWI – Walk-and-Turn test
Officers are looking for eight clues during the Walk-and-Turn test:
- Can’t balance during instructions
- Starts too soon
- Stops while walking
- Misses heel to toe by over half an inch
- Raises arms more than six inches to regain balance
- Turns improperly
- Takes the wrong number of steps
- Steps off the line
DWI – One-Leg Stand test
Officers are looking for four clues during the One-Leg Stand test:
- Sways: If the individual sways at all while balancing.
- Raises Arms: If the individual raises arms more than six inches from their body
- Hops: If the individual hops to maintain balance
- Drops Foot: If the individual puts a foot down
My client refused to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. My client was also asked to exit the vehicle several times but refused. My client’s lack of cooperation caused the situation to be escalated and the officer asked for backup. Finally, after several requests, my client exited the vehicle. He was asked again to perform the Standard Field Sobriety Tests and refused again. My client was arrested for suspicion of DWI.
While in custody, my client was asked to provide a specimen of his breath or blood. My client refused to provide a specimen. In Texas, the legal limit is 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Around 4:00 AM, after being in custody for hours, officers executed a warrant for a blood draw. At approximately 4:21 AM, the warrant was executed and my client’s blood was drawn.
My client’s blood draw came back as 0.07 and several drugs were alleged to be in his blood.
The prosecutor would not dismiss this case. My client was faced with a tough decision to take a plea deal or set this case for trial – I recommended that we keep fighting and set the case for trial.
We received a trial date and were preparing for the trial. I received an email just before our trial date that the state was dismissing his case.