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Do I Have to Take Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia?

Georgia Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Mandatory!

Standardized Georgia field sobriety tests are voluntary. You do not have to take an SFST! A police officer is trained to “urge” you to complete the DUI eye test, the walk and turn, or the one leg stand. Typically, a detained driver is not told that these roadside tests are optional. The opposite is usually the case: the officer, as part of the DUI investigation, starts to instruct the person to focus on a pen light as the officer moves it from side to side.

Almost every driver fully cooperates with the request because they think that if they “obey,” the officer will go “easy” on them, and will let the person go. This is not the case!

From the moment an officer flashes his lights and turns on his siren to get you to pull over, your every move is being captured on the police dashcam video. Police officers do not “let people go”, especially if you are driving erratically or you refuse to pull over immediately. Once you have stopped, the officer is on the radio calling in other officers to assist in the DUI investigation and possible arrest.

Once outside your vehicle, and after you have blown into a portable breathalyzer, the officer will check your blood alcohol content (BAC) level, and if you are over the legal limit you can expect to take the field sobriety tests. The first roadside test is officially called the horizontal gaze nystagmus, or HGN. It is more commonly referred to as the DUI eye test.

An officer holds a pen in front of your face and asks you to follow it from side to side without moving your head. The officer is looking for any shaking motion in your eyes, an indication that you have consumed alcohol. A non-intoxicated person will track the pen’s motion with a more fluid movement. This test is unscientific and unreliable!

People with eye problems have trouble passing this test. Even a driver without eye problems can be easily distracted by passing cars and other bright lights like shopping center neon signs.

Usually the next agility test the officer will want you to perform is the walk and turn, or WAT. Another name for this test is the heel to toe. You will be asked to stand still, and upon the officer’s command, start to step forward while placing heel to toe and walk a straight line for a certain number of paces.

Then the officer will instruct you to turn around and walk back to the starting point. Any indication of being wobbly, not beginning when instructed, or stumbling can lead to the final test.

This is the one-leg stand, or OLS. It is one of the three scientifically researched standardized field sobriety tests “approved” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that officers give on the roadside to help them decide whether to arrest you for DUI. The NHTSA says officers using scores from all three tests will be 91 percent accurate in making an arrest.

Before the one-leg stand, eye test, and walk and turn, police officers “made up” their own physical tests. Some officers threw coins on the ground and ordered that only nickels or quarters be picked up. They would ask a driver to lean back and touch one finger to his or her nose, or recite the alphabet backwards. Sobriety tests were standardized across the country over 30 years ago.

Spurgeon Cole, a Georgia forensic scientist and consultant, has a long history of challenging the effectiveness of field sobriety tests. Cole administered the tests to 21 of his students at Clemson University in South Carolina — none of whom had had a drop of alcohol — and showed the videotape of their performance to a group of officers, who reported they’d arrest nearly half the students.

“And these people had absolutely zero to drink,” Cole said in an interview. “These tests are absolutely worthless.”

In Atlanta, GA which DUI attorney knows best how to fight a DUI 3rd offense by challenging field sobriety test performances? The answer is the Atlanta attorneys who have decades of experience in defeating field sobriety tests. Those Atlanta DUI lawyers are with the law firm William C. Head, PC

Call 42-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515


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