Prior to a DUI arrest (absent a refusal to participate), the officer will administer field sobriety testing. These evaluations created by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are designed to determine a motorist’s level of alcohol intoxication and their ability to drive. These tests should be administered the same way no matter what officer or department is investigating the case. However, we often find that poor training will result in flawed administration of these evaluations. Even worse, some officers will say that is just how they do it, as if there are different ways to administer the tests. Understanding proper administration of the tests is critical to mounting an attack against the results of these evaluations.
Most people are unaware that the law does not require drivers to submit to DUI field sobriety testing in McDonough and passing them will not help you in trial. If you face conviction for drunk driving charges, call a DUI attorney today to get help building your defense.
All three standardized field sobriety tests are challenging for most individuals under normal circumstances, regardless of whether they are sober. Additionally, when an officer suspects a person of driving under the influence, they may be nervous or scared, making the conditions for these tests even more challenging. Though there are more evaluations that officers may give drivers, there are only three nationally approved tests. The three tests include:
A Horizontal Nystagmus Test is a DUI field sobriety test that police officers in McDonough may choose to administer if they suspect an individual is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. During this evaluation, the officer moves a stimulus from left to right and instructs the driver to follow it with their eyes. The police officer will then pay close attention to the suspect’s pupils. If the officer notes a pupil makes an involuntary jerk movement while they follow the stimulus, this could be a clue they have a high BAC.
For this test, the officer instructs the driver to raise one leg approximately six inches while keeping both legs straight. The officer will then require them to hold that position and count out loud until they receive the signal to stop. This test is generally 30 seconds but could be longer at the officer’s discretion. The officer is watching for swaying, unsteadiness, hopping on one foot, and lowering the foot. Any of these things could indicate a high BAC.
For this sobriety test, the officer will designate a straight line. The straight line may be real or imaginary. Then the officer will instruct the driver to place their left foot on the line followed by the right foot touching toe to toe. The officer will instruct the driver to remain in that position until told to start the rest of the evaluation. During this staging period, the officer will demonstrate the rest of the evaluation which consists of actually walking the line and stopping after nine steps in order to turn and make another 9 steps back to the original starting point. The officer is observing how well the driver follows instructions as well as their balance and coordination during both the staging/instructional phase and the performance phase.
Call a seasoned lawyer in McDonough with years of practice in DUI cases for questions on field sobriety testing.
Though The Official Code of Georgia Annotated 40-5-55 states that anyone in this state with a driver’s license automatically agrees to a BAC test if an officer suspects them of a DUI, this is not the case for field sobriety testing. If an officer stops a driver and conducts field sobriety tests, they want to establish if the person is operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If a driver refuses to take a BAC test upon the officer’s request, they could lose their license for a year. However, field sobriety tests do not include BAC testing, and the results can be subject to intense scrutiny in court. In most cases, the state would only use the field sobriety tests to the driver’s disadvantage, and it is seldom a good idea to submit to them. The tests do not have any natural science behind them, but if the driver is visibly stumbling or appears intoxicated, the officer may mention this at the hearing. You should almost always refuse to submit to any testing as it just provides evidence which will be used against you. If you find yourself with a DUI charge in McDonough, then you need to hire an attorney to properly attack the field sobriety evaluations at trial.
Field sobriety tests can cause way more harm than good for an individual accused of drunk driving. A legal team skilled in DUI field sobriety testing in McDonough could investigate to help find any flaws in your stop and arrest. Often, an officer makes an error while conducting these tests, or you may not have understood your rights.
If this has happened to you, call a knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer at our firm today to get started. There is no time to delay this type of case. Call today to begin preparing your defense.