Field Sobriety Tests in Alpharetta Drunk Driving Cases

When you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be asked to undergo a series of tests designed to determine whether you are inebriated. Although you are within your right to refuse these tests, odds are that if you refuse, the police are not going to let you drive away. To learn more, reach out to a knowledgeable DUI attorney who could provide you with professional insight regarding field sobriety tests in Alpharetta drunk driving cases.

What is Included in a Field Sobriety Test in Alpharetta?

The field sobriety tests that are generally used in Georgia include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) eye test, the nine-step walk and turn test, and the 30-second one-leg stand test. The HGN is considered more scientific under Georgia law than the walk and turn and one-leg stand test. The walk and turn and one-leg stand test are just observations that show whether a person is balanced or can follow instructions, but they have never been validated to show that they can accurately determine whether a person is above or below the legal limit.

A field sobriety test can also include a portable breath test called an Alco-Sensor. An Alco-Sensor is used by law enforcement to determine a person’s alcohol level with a portable breath test. However, this test result is not admissible in court in Georgia. It can be expressed only as positive or negative for alcohol in court.

Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

There are other tests that some law enforcement officers will use including asking a person to say their ABCs (from D to X for example) or some other shortened version of the ABCs. They can ask a person to do a finger count, or tapping each of their forefingers to their thumb. There is a modified Romberg test, where a person is asked to close their eyes and tilt their head back and estimate the passage of 30 seconds. All these tests are non-validated and have never been show to be accurate predictors of whether a person is impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Administering a Field Sobriety Test

Under Georgia law, standardized field sobriety tests should be performed according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines. This means that they must be instructed the same way, demonstrated the same way, and scored the same way. The problem is a lot of police officers do not always use their training in administering the tests and oftentimes, those tests can be invalidated or shown to be faulty if they were not properly instructed, demonstrated, or scored.

Validity of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are roadside agility tests that have never been properly validated to show that they can accurately predict whether a person is impaired by alcohol or drugs. They were developed in the early 1980s with numerous studies attempting to validate them, but none of the studies has been scientifically validated.  Indeed, over the last decade, many of the studies have been shown to be based upon faulty science.

Fighting a DUI Charge

If you have been accused of drinking and driving, you may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. Refusal to do so could land you in legal trouble meriting the assistance of an experienced attorney. With a DUI defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to mitigate the circumstances of your case. To learn more, or to get started on building a case, be sure to schedule a consultation today.


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