Police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a motorist is intoxicated before they can perform a traffic stop. From there, the officers need probable cause to make a legal arrest.
The police rely on field sobriety tests to establish probable cause. Knowing how these tests work may help you decide what to do if the police pull you over. If they administer the tests incorrectly, it can serve as the foundation of a DUI defense.
Walk and turn
The officer asks you to walk a line, turn around and return to your starting position. The specific requirements of the test increase its difficulty. Drivers must:
- Walk heel to toe
- Take nine steps in each direction
- Turn around on only one foot
Feeling scared, stressed or anxious often makes it harder to complete the test, regardless of sobriety.
One leg stand
The police instruct you to stand on one leg for a set amount of time. During this test, drivers must:
- Hold the position for about 30 seconds
- Keep one leg about six inches from the ground
- Count, starting at 1,001 until the officer ends the test
Again, the state of your emotions can interfere with the ability to finish the task correctly.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
For the uninformed, HGN refers to involuntary jerking in the eyeballs. If the driver is intoxicated, these involuntary movements may be more pronounced and occur at lower angles than in sober individuals.
You will follow a light with your eyes as the police move it slowly across your vision. Unfortunately, failing this scientific-sounding sobriety test can damage your case.
It is possible to fail field sobriety tests and face arrest even if you have not consumed any intoxicating substances. Learn more about the potential consequences of a Georgia conviction and begin building your DUI defense right away.