DUI Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia
It is illegal to drive a vehicle in Georgia while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver is considered DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is greater than .08 if over 21 years of age. Georgia field sobriety tests are conducted to gauge a person's intoxication level. These tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and are called Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). Field sobriety tests are administered roadside after a driver is stopped and suspected of driving under the influence. Before a police officer can arrest a driver for DUI, they have to gather evidence to justify the arrest. Field sobriety tests are one of the ways officers accomplish this.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia
There are three primary tests used to determine how intoxicated a driver is in Georgia. These include the eye test, one leg stand test, and the walk and turn test. According to national studies, these three tests, when properly conducted, show a correlation between their successful completion and level of alcohol intoxication. While conducting these sobriety tests, the police are looking for very specific criteria, and scoring the participant to determine whether they will be arrested for drunk driving. There are advantages and disadvantages to each test, but they all share a similar disadvantage of relying on basic physical abilities that not all people possess.
One Leg Stand Test
As it sounds, the one leg stand test (OLS) consists of standing still on one leg for 30 seconds. The officer is looking for the suspect to sway, fall over, swing their arms, hop on one foot, or to be unbalanced. If any of these signs appear, the officer may charge the suspect with DUI. However, multiple factors can impact this test. If the driver is overweight, on prescription drugs, wearing uncomfortable shoes, or has poor night vision, then this could lead to a failure on the OLS test. In addition, the length of the test can have an impact on the results.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN or Eye Test)
The HGN test is widely accepted across the nation and has scientific approval. The test consists of having the driver follow a pen or a small flashlight while the officer checks for signs of intoxication. Some of the indications include an inability to track the light, involuntary jerking motions of the eye, or a deviation from the task. As with the OLS test, there are alternative factors that can influence eye functions. Prescription drugs, eye conditions, and some medical conditions can make the test unreliable.
Walk and Turn Test
The Walk and Turn Test (WAT) requires the subject to take nine steps, heel to toe, in a straight line. Then, the person must turn, and repeat the steps back again. In this test, police are looking at multiple factors, including how and when the driver begins the test. Again, there are many factors which could render this test unreliable, including for elderly or overweight drivers, as well as poor lighting and an uneven road surface.
Failed Sobriety Tests in Georgia is Not the End
The field sobriety tests in Georgia as described are difficult for people to complete in perfect conditions. Therefore, adding nervousness and completing them at night most of the time just adds to the difficulty. Officers sometimes even ask drivers to participate in additional tests such as saying the alphabet forward and backward. These tests have not been validated to prove that they indicate a driver was under the influence.
Our Georgia DUI Lawyers are skilled in dissecting the methods used by officers to conduct field sobriety tests. We know exactly what to look for and notice when an officer does not conduct the tests correctly. Furthermore, we understand that officers may be careless in administering the tests but still use the evidence as grounds to arrest someone for DUI. Our DUI Attorneys in Georgia will review the camera from the police car to see if the evidence can be suppressed.
What Happens If I Refuse the Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia?
Drivers in the State of Georgia are not required to perform field sobriety tests requested by police. These tests are voluntary, therefore, they can be refused. There are many external factors which could result in “failing” the test, even if the driver is not intoxicated. This could include darkness, the presence of flashing lights, passing cars, health conditions, roadside conditions, footwear, and medications.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Georgia, you need the knowledge and courtroom experience of a qualified DUI lawyer who understands SFSTs. Whether or not you participated in field sobriety tests, you need a lawyer who knows the training and science behind them. Our Georgia DUI Attorneys are all trained in same SFST as the arresting officers. We will put our experience to use for you! Call now and schedule a free case evaluation.