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Head Injuries May Affect a Field Sobriety Tests

Published: Jan 18, 2017 in Criminal Defense, DUI

When a police officer suspects that a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may attempt to administer a number of field sobriety tests. These tests assess a driver’s motor skills; whether they can walk properly, speak properly, etc. While these tests are often good indicators of whether or not a driver is intoxicated, their results can be misleading. If a driver has suffered a serious head injury, for example, it may be difficult for them to complete the tests. This might lead to an officer making a false arrest. Luckily, there are steps that a driver can take to inform a police officer of their head injury.

Houston DWI lawyer Ned Barnett realized these situations can seem unfair, especially if you are formally charged with driving while intoxicated. A DWI conviction can lead to fines, jail time, and even a criminal record. Attorney Ned Barnett will do everything in his power to explain your situation to the court. With his help, you stand a better chance of avoiding the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction.

Call (713) 222-6767 now to see how your case can reach the best possible outcome.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

A police officer may administer a number of field sobriety tests if they suspect that a driver is under the influence. Perhaps the most well-known of these tests is the walk and turn. In this assessment of sobriety, the driver is instructed to walk the length of a straight line. When they reach the end, they are required to turn on a dime and head the other direction. While this may be a simple task for many, it may be a challenge for someone with a head injury, such as a concussion. These injuries can cause a loss of orientation and a subsequent loss of balance. Similarly, the one leg stand test may be less than ideal for someone who has suffered a head injury. Excellent balance is required to pass this test.

The last, and least well-known, of these assessments, is referred to as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Here, an officer shines a light in the driver’s eyes or asks the driver to stare at an object, such as a pen. As the object or the light moves, the driver’s gaze is supposed to follow. If the driver’s eyes twitch as they track the object or light, it may be an indicator of intoxication. However, this test has been proven to be inaccurate, even for people in perfect health. Expecting someone with a head injury to complete this task perfectly is beyond unreasonable.

Informing the Officer

Fortunately, there is something that you as the driver can do to prevent being mistaken for someone who is under the influence. When you are pulled over under suspicion of intoxication, you must immediately inform the police officer of your injury. According to Texas law, the officer must then take your injury into consideration while you are performing the field sobriety tests. When the officer is made aware of your head injury, they can expect that you might not perform as well as someone who is in perfect health. This can help you avoid being arrested under suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett Today

If you were arrested because your head injury prevented you from passing an officer’s field sobriety tests, you may be worried about the penalties that could follow a DWI conviction. What’s more, you may be afraid that the police will not believe that you have a head injury and that you will only dig a deeper hole for yourself. The truth is that you should always inform law enforcement of any disability that might affect your motor functions. A Houston DWI lawyer with the Law Offices of Ned Barnett can present your side of the story in the best possible light.

Call (713) 222-6767 today for a free and confidential consultation to see how attorney Ned Barnett can fight for your freedom.