Failing the Georgia Field Sobriety Test
Georgia police officers use a series of field sobriety tests to determine if there is probable cause to make a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest. The walk-and-turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand, alphabet recitation, and finger-to-nose are all tests that may be administered by the officer. Failing the Georgia field sobriety test could lead to a serious DUI charge; therefore, hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to challenge the results of your tests is in your best interest.
While these tests may seem scientific, they have not been embraced by the medical and scientific communities. The test score is left up to the officer, who may already believe that you are guilty of drunk driving. This biased opinion combined with the conditions under which the tests may be given (gravel, sloped roadway, flashing lights, late at night) can lead to a failing score for almost anyone who takes these tests.
The walk-and-turn and one-leg stand test are designed to measure how well you follow instructions as well as your physical abilities. Each test consists of two stages: the instruction stage and the performance stage. The officer will watch you during each stage to look for signs of intoxication. Many factors can contribute to failing these tests such as weight, physical conditions, nervousness, or uncomfortable shoes.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures the nystagmus, or jerking, of your eye. The officer will ask you to watch an object, such as a penlight, without moving your head while he or she moves the object from side to side. As you follow the movement with your eyes, the officer will look for the onset of jerking. The theory is that if you are intoxicated, nystagmus will be more pronounced; however, many other conditions such as brain tumors, eye problems, or neurological disorders can also product nystagmus.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the validity of field sobriety tests. In one study, a doctor asked 14 police officers to watch videos of people performing field sobriety tests and asked them to decide if the individuals were too impaired to drive. Unbeknownst to the officers, the blood alcohol content (BAC) for each of the subjects was .00%. However, the officers found that 46% of these (sober) individuals were too drunk to drive.
Failing the Georgia field sobriety test can lead to unwanted results and you should immediately contact an experienced defense lawyer to investigate your case. The right lawyer could have your charges reduced or even dropped altogether.
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