Weaknesses of Georgia’s Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration endorses three tests to see if a driver is inebriated. They are called the sobriety field tests. Measuring blood alcohol level allows authorities to determine unequivocally their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, but this cannot be done on the side of the road. So instead officers use the eye test, walk and turn test, and the ability to stand on one leg to make a determination of a driver’s fitness to drive safely. The only problem with these tests is that a person who may have a medical condition or other physical issues may not be able to successfully complete these examinations without failure and yet be perfectly sober. There may be other reasons for inaccurate results on any or all of these tests, but you may not know the details of how the sobriety field test data is handled in court.
The Eye Test
The eye test is also known as the HGN. It stands for horizontal gaze nystagmus. This test conducts a series of measurements where the officer looks for any jerking movements made by the eyes. The only problem with this test is that those who have some vision problems, brain injuries, or other conditions can also have jerking eye movements. The officer has no way of distinguishing between inebriation and a possible medical issue, which makes this test invalid. Nystagmus, the involuntary oscillation of the eyes side to side, can result from an inner ear problem or a congenital issue as well as being acquired by inebriation.
The Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test consists of walking a straight line, or about nine steps, with an officer watching closely. Normally the steps are supposed to proceed in a uniform heel-to-toe fashion. At the end of the line, you must make a turn of 180 degrees and walk back again. Most officers tell you to walk normally because they want to look for clues that you are intoxicated. One problem with this test is that those who have problems with balance can be mistaken as drunk when it’s simply a physical issue like old age or being overweight. Balance disorders like Labyrinthitis or Ménière’s disease that may be caused by a virus can make people unsteady on their feet. In addition, some people are able to walk in a straight line when they are over the blood alcohol limit. These tests are highly flawed and it’s possible to contend their accuracy.
Standing On One Leg Test
The last test an officer will administer is a one-legged stand. You must stand in a normal manner will your arms at your side with one foot at least six inches off the ground. The officer looks for swaying, hopping, flapping of the arms or resting the raised foot on the ground more than three times in thirty seconds. These tests, like the others, are difficult for the elderly, overweight or ill people. The officers, however, do not always take these conditions into consideration. There are many people that would not pass these tests even with no alcohol in their blood. Add to the situation the nerves that someone has when facing an impending DUI charge and it is a recipe for false positives until a blood alcohol level can be reviewed.
Using The Tests To Prove Your Innocence
Even under the best of circumstances, some of these tests can be impossible for some individuals. Some Georgia officers will use non-standardized tests, like saying the alphabet backward, to prove that the driver is inebriated. Thankfully, each police cruiser has a camera mounted to the front of the car. In many cases, this video footage can help us to prove your innocence. Not all officers administer the tests properly, but they are eager to arrest someone in for a DUI. While the officers are doing their jobs to protect the citizens of this area, you may need a DUI lawyer Savannah GA to protect yours from police overreach.
Getting Legal Help
If you have been charged with DUI and you need legal help, give us a call. We have helped many people to get their charges downgraded or dismissed. We know how important keeping your record clear is to you. A DUI can mess with your license, your record, and your ability to find work or a place to live. Call the DUI lawyer Savannah GA -Tate Law Group – for help.