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Field Sobriety Tests In Georgia

georgia field sobriety tests

One of the most common methods police officers use when testing for DUI is field sobriety tests (FST). Some of the most common FSTs are the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus), one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, finger-to-nose and counting backward. Each test has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, they all share the same disadvantage: They rely on basic physical abilities that not all people possess.

Here is a brief overview of common FSTs:

One-Leg Stand

As it sounds, the suspect stands on one leg. If there is any swaying or imbalance, the suspect could be charged with DUI. The test may be inaccurate if the driver is overweight, is affected by prescription drugs, has poor night vision or is wearing high-heeled shoes.

HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus)

The HGN test is perhaps the most widely accepted and scientifically approved. The police officer will have the subject follow an object (such as a pen) while the officer checks for signs of intoxication, lack of smooth pursuit, deviation, etc. Prescription drugs and various medical conditions can also influence eye nystagmus.


The suspect will take 10 steps (heel to toe), then turn and repeat the 10 steps back. The officer will be checking to see if the driver is following directions properly and able to perform the physical actions without any tripping or swaying. Again, the test is making the assumption that the suspect does not have any physical condition that could impact the results.

Finger-To-Nose, Counting Backward And Reciting The Alphabet

To perform the finger-to-nose test, the driver will extend each arm and touch the tip of his or her nose with the index finger. Missing the tip of the nose may result in further testing or DUI charges. Counting backward or reciting the alphabet could be complicated by the pressure of the situation, potentially nullifying any negative results.

How Can The Results Be Dismissed?

Aside from the physical assumptions in FSTs, it is important that the suspect understands what the officer is requesting. If needed, the officer should demonstrate the task you are being asked to complete. This is particularly important if there are any language barriers.

A DUI charge does not equal a DUI conviction. At Andrews & Sanders Law Offices in Savannah, our attorneys are knowledgeable and prepared when it comes to dealing with FSTs. Call us at 912-341-6861 or email us for a free consultation with a lawyer.