Georgia Legal Defense

Do I Legally Have to Take a Field Sobriety Test?

If you have ever been pulled over for suspected drunk driving in Georgia, you may have asked yourself the question, "What are my rights?" Unfortunately, a significant number of drivers are unsure of what steps they can take to protect their rights during an encounter with the police; most believe that they are legally obligated to comply with any request that a law enforcement officer makes. This is not true. In fact, you are under no obligation to participate in a field sobriety test if an officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs—which includes tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand and the walk and turn.

These tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a way to help law enforcement officers determine whether or not a driver's physical and cognitive abilities have been impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs. While it is true that failing these tests could indicate intoxication, it is also true that there are a number of other reasons why a driver may perform poorly—including fatigue, nervousness, lack of coordination, etc. For this reason, you should not assume that you will be convicted of DUI if you were arrested after failing a field sobriety test. With the help of a Savannah DUI lawyer from The Schneider Law Firm, you can contest the validity of this evidence.

It is also important to note that, while you are not legally obligated to participate in a field sobriety test, the same does not apply for chemical testing (i.e. breath, blood or urine tests). According to the state's implied consent law, you cannot refuse to take a chemical test unless you accept the consequences. In Georgia, an implied consent violation would result in an automatic one-year driver's license suspension. If you refuse a second time, you could lose your license for up to three years. Your failure to cooperate could also be used against you at trial, since you could still be charged with DUI.

Facing DUI charges? Get in touch with a Savannah DUI attorney at The Schneider Law Firm as soon as possible: (912) 385-0854.