Field Sobriety Tests
Whether or not someone has been drinking, if they are pulled over, in an accident, or stopped at a road block, and suspected of driving under the influence, the police officer WILL almost always ask them to submit to a variety of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). These tests are given to test the officer’s suspicions, to “build up” probable cause for a DUI arrest.
You do not have to submit to these tests.
These Field Sobriety Tests have varying degrees of scientific weight, and are mostly gauged subjectively – based on the officer’s “observations.” Remember, if you have been asked to submit to FSTs, the officer probably already suspects you of DUI and is just looking for more probable cause for arrest. And it doesn’t take much…
You may think that you can “pass” these tests and be on your way, but that is rarely the case. On each test, the officer is looking for a minimum number of clues to suggest that you are Driving Under the Influence, and whether or not you’ve been drinking, and however well you think you’ve done on these tests, you may be providing the officer with the “clues” needed for arrest.
REMEMBER: You DO NOT have to submit to these tests.
Though there may be legal consequences and license implications for your refusal to submit to Field Sobriety Tests, it is still your right to refuse them, and without results from these tests, it can be difficult and often impossible for the State to convict you of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
The most commonly administered roadside Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) include:
- PBT (Preliminary Breath Test)
- HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus)
- Walk and Turn
- One-Legged Stand
While the tests described above are the most common Field Sobriety Tests a driver might encounter when stopped and suspected by the police of DUI, other tests and lines of questioning may be used.
In Georgia, anyone licensed to drive in the state has impliedly consented to some form of chemical testing of their breath, blood or urine if suspected of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). There are three types of Implied Consent notices officers may read in the State of Georgia… Each explains the potential consequences of a refusal to submit to this chemical testing of breath, blood or urine. It is important that the arresting officer read the driver charged with DUI the correct warning, otherwise this warning, and the tests administered as a result, may not be admissible in court.
The three (3) Implied Consent warnings in Georgia refer to Drivers Over 21, Drivers Under 21, and Commercial Driver’s License holders. After a driver has been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the officer will read him or her an Implied Consent warning from an orange card.
By the time the implied consent warnings are read to many people charged with DUI, they are already under arrest. Many feel that they have already submitted to all the Field Sobriety Tests and questioning that the officer has asked of them, and have still been arrested, so “why should they comply with the officer’s request any more?”
While this is an understandable position, and drivers licensed in the State of Georgia do have the right to refuse this testing, they should be aware of the consequences of doing so. This is what the reading of the Implied Consent notice is meant to accomplish.
Drivers must be aware that, as unfair as it may seem, if they refuse to submit to such chemical testing after the proper Implied Consent warning has been read, the law imposes some harsh consequences. If a driver refuses such chemical testing, he or she will be face an administrative license suspension, separate from his or her criminal proceeding, and face a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for at least one (1) year as a result. In many cases, you have ONLY 10 DAYS to respond and request this hearing, or your license will be automatically suspended!
Questioning by Officer
If you are involved in an accident or stopped by a police officer in the State of Georgia on suspicion of violation of some traffic offense, you will likely be asked a serious of investigative questions. You must be aware that, at all times, even before arrest and before suspicion that you may have violated any specific crimes, you have the right to remain silent under Georgia law.
You have the right not to incriminate yourself, and many times, answering what may seem to be harmless questions can do just that. When speaking to any law enforcement officers, keep in mind that anything you say can AND WILL be used against you.
You should assume your statements and actions are being recorded (most officers have video cameras running in their vehicles and audio microphones on their uniforms), and that these statements and actions WILL BE used against you in any prosecution. It is imperative that you contact a professional Canton DUI attorney with experience such as Michael Vereen III.
You should assume that, from the second you are pulled over, and often before, the officer is looking for further evidence or probable cause that you have violated the law, whatever law it might be.
In most cases, whether or not it seems this way, you are already under suspicion when you are stopped. Be mindful that your encounter with the police begins unbalanced. The police are always looking for admissions, clues, and further indications that you have violated the law. Whenever you are stopped by the police, and for whatever reason, keep this in mind.
Be respectful and polite in your encounter, but remember that they are looking for evidence that you have committed a crime. They are free, and it is their job, to look, but you have no obligation to help them collect evidence against you.