Many people misunderstand their rights during field sobriety tests in Georgia. This is because many people incorrectly believe the law of implied consent includes refusing to comply with field sobriety tests. However, citizens are well within their rights to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test without suffering immediate legal consequences because of your decision.
Were you arrested for suspicion of DUI after refusing a field sobriety test? Whether you agreed to perform the tests or not, it is important to have a full understanding of the charges against you and your legal options moving forward. DUI convictions of any kind can impose harsh penalties on your life—do not fight the charges without a dedicated Atlanta DUI attorney at your side!
At Weintraub & Alper Legal, our team is proud to have handled hundreds of DUI cases with success. Contact us today so we may help you protect your rights!
Understanding the Law of Implied Consent
Implied consent is a state law that all drivers agree to recognize upon earning their driver's license. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-55 and § 40-5-67.1, drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test such as a breathalyzer or blood test may have their license automatically suspended by the arresting officer. Implied consent only concerns chemical tests—it does not include field sobriety tests.
Individuals may refuse to submit to field sobriety tests without suffering immediate legal repercussions. Keep in mind that this does not protect individuals from being arrested for DUI, it only protects individuals' right to prevent self-incrimination. Politely refusing to participate in the field sobriety test may work in your favor, but it does not protect you from an arrest.
Under implied consent, refusing to take a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test results in license suspension.
Learn more about refusing to take BAC tests.
What are Field Sobriety Tests?
Field sobriety tests were designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help police officers estimate a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. However, these tests cannot absolutely determine and prove that a person is intoxicated beyond the legal .08% limit. Usually, they are simply used as supporting evidence to bring a DUI charge against an individual.
Common field sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk and Turn (WAT), and the One-Leg Stand (OLS). Some sources indicate that nearly one in three of conventional field sobriety tests are fault as a result of problematic conduct and improper procedure. Contesting field sobriety tests may be the element of your defense that secures a victory against the DUI charge.
The following tests are classified as standardized field sobriety tests.
1. The One-Leg Stand Test:
During this test, the suspect will be asked to stand on one leg, positioning the alternate leg approximately six inches off the ground. During this, the officer will ask the suspect to count to a certain number, or to continue counting until the officer says to stop. The NHTSA states that the officer should time the test for 30 seconds. The officer will watch the suspect, looking for signs of impairment such as swaying, hopping, using the arms to balance, and more.
2. The Walk and Turn Test:
This test requires the suspect to walk nine steps, placing the toes of one foot behind the heel of the other for every step. Once the suspect has completed all nine steps, he/she is required to turn around on one foot, and complete another 9 steps in the opposite direction. Again, the officer will watch for any signs of impairment as the suspect completes the test.
3. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test:
The officer will ask the suspect to follow the motion of a small object the officer is holding, such as a pen or an unlit flashlight using only the motions of the eyes. During this test, the officer will watch for exaggerated nystagmus. This means that the officer will check to see if the suspect’s eyes are jerking in an exaggerated manner.
Although the NHSTA has determined these are standardized tests, some officers will ask suspects to participate in other tests, many of which people believe are designed to make suspects fail.
The Tests Designed for Failure
Below are some of the tests many people feel are designed to make suspects fail, giving officers the right to arrest the suspect for a DUI offense.
- Reciting the alphabet backwards
- Counting backwards starting at a large number
- Standing with feet together while tipping the head backwards and remaining balances
- Picking coins of the ground
- And more
The Atlanta DUI defense attorneys at Weintraub & Alper Legal understand the unfairness of many field sobriety tests. In addition, we understand the complexities of a person’s rights and are not afraid to bring facts to the courtroom. We are dedicated to our clients and will do anything in our power to ensure your rights are protected.
How Consent/Refusal Affects Your Case
When it comes to defending against a DUI charge, the evidence against you is one of the most important parts of the prosecution's case. As former prosecutors, our Atlanta DUI lawyers know that the decision to consent to a field sobriety test, as well as the decision to refuse it, plays a key role in many DUI cases. Improper police procedure may have contributed to a DUI stop and resulted in a wrongful arrest. Reviewing your circumstances with an experienced legal professional is the first step to building a strong defense against the DUI charge.
Failed a Field Sobriety Test? Get Skilled Defense Today
Our team has 40+ years of collective experiencein DUI defense and criminal defense. When you retain the legal counsel and dedicated representation of our DUI lawyer in Atlanta, you gain access to years of experience and success handling hundreds of DUI cases. Take action before it is too late to bring a solid defense against the DUI charge—retain the guidance of our criminal defense team and contest the field sobriety test evidence brought against you. It may mean the difference between a DUI conviction and an acquittal.
If you are looking to contest your field sobriety test, do not wait to secure help. Schedule your consultation with Weintraub & Alper Legal today!
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