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Georgia field sobriety tests: Do you have to take them?

If you get pulled over by a Georgia patrol officer, you might be feeling nervous or worried right from the start, especially if you're unsure as to the reason for the traffic stop. In such situations, it's always best to remain calm and to co-operate as much as possible. You may be pleasantly surprised for the officer issues a warning to slow down or tells you that you have a brake light that's not functioning, then permits you to leave.

On the other hand, if the officer asks you to step out of the car, things may get a lot worse before they get better. Police often make this request when they think a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. He or she may then ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. This is why it's so important that you know your rights and how to protect them, especially if you wind up facing arrest for suspected drunk driving.

You don't want to fail a field sobriety test

You may be one of many people in Georgia and across the country who get sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat and severe stress whenever you have to take a test. It's called "test anxiety" and a lot of people have it. The problem is that your test anxiety might cause you to fail a field sobriety test, which a police officer may then use as probable cause to arrest you for suspected DUI.

The tests police use most often

While there are standard guidelines as to how police are supposed to administer a field sobriety test, the officer who pulled you over has several tests to choose from and may even request to administer more than one. To check your ability to follow a series of instructions and to see if you can walk a straight line without wavering, he or she may ask you to take a walk-and-turn test.

Another test that checks your balance is the one-leg stance. If you've never had a lot of physical co-ordination, this test might be a significant challenge for you. You have to stand on one leg while looking up at the sky and might also have to count off a sequence of numbers aloud while you perform the rest of the test.

A unique test for observing your eye movements

A Georgia patrol officer who thinks you've been drinking and driving may also check your eyeball movement by administering a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is where you must track an object with your eyes without moving your head. Intoxication often causes eyes to shake erratically before reaching their maximum peripheral vision point.

Personal opinion and other issues may prompt a test fail

You might have had a past injury that impedes your ability to balance or to walk while placing the heel of one foot at the toe of the other. Maybe you have an eye condition that affects your peripheral vision. These and many other issues may cause you to score poorly on a field sobriety test. Such tests also involve the personal interpretation of the police officer issuing the examination.

In short, if the officer says you fail, you fail. It's important to remember that you are not obligated to comply with a request to take a field sobriety test. If police take you into custody, you need to know how to protect your rights, especially if police file DUI charges against you. The first thing to know is that you don't have to answer any questions without having legal representation present.

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Tyler Lee Randolph, P.C.

2591 U.S. Highway 17, Suite 203, | Richmond Hill, GA 31324 | Phone: 912-756-6001 | Fax: 866-518-0489 | Map & Directions

617 Stephenson Avenue, Suite 102, | Savannah, GA 31405 | Phone: 912-662-5536 | Fax: 866-518-0489 |  Map & Directions