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Field Sobriety Tests In Georgia

One of the most common methods police officers use when testing for DUI is field sobriety tests (FST). Some of the most frequently applied FTS are standing on one leg, walking and turning around, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) and touching your finger to your nose and counting backward. These test focus on your physical abilities, however because not all people share the same physique these tests can offer different advantages and disadvantages depending on who they are applied to.

Here is a brief overview of common FSTs:

Standing On One Leg

As simple as it is, standing on one leg is a commonly applied sobriety test that the police use. When you are in the correct position, the police will watch for any sign of swaying or loss of balance. If these are observed in the officer’s opinion, then you can be charged with a DUI. Some people can have more difficulty with this test, such as drivers who are overweight, people who are taking certain legally prescribed drugs, or others wearing difficult footwear such as high-heeled shoes.

Walking And Turning Around

When an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, they will sometimes ask you to walk around and turn to observe whether you trip or sway during the process and can follow their direction. Normally, the test involves you taking ten steps forward, walking from heel to toe as you go, and then turning around and repeating it back to where you started. This test, like the previous one, has the same inherent flaws in that it is based on subjective observations of physical ability that some people may have more difficult than others in performing.

Touching A Finger To Your Nose

This test is about as straightforward as it sounds. The officer will ask the driver to leave their vehicle and extend their arms out to their sides straight, then, using their index finger only, touching their nose with one arm at a time. If the driver is unable to touch their nose, or misses it slightly, that can be used as a sign of intoxication and the officer can arrest them for DUI. The officer can also ask the driver to perform other tasks to throw the driver off, such as counting backwards from 20, reciting the alphabet backwards, or singing a song. All of these activities can be made much harder by the pressure of the officer’s presence, skewing the test and potentially causing it to be flawed.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

This test, unlike the other previous tests, does not require the driver to leave the vehicle. Instead, the officer will present them with a small object, such as a pencil or flashlight, and ask them to follow the object with their eyes as the officer moves it horizontally. During the movement, the officer will observe the driver for evidence of intocixaction, such as having difficulty following the object. This is called looking for eye nystagmus, and it can be impacted by some medical conditions and other prescription drugs that would present a false positive. However, this test is considered to be one of the more generally accepted and scientifically based DUI tests

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.