You have just left an after-work company social gathering. Despite having had a few drinks, you feel more or less fine and decide to drive yourself home. After only having driven a block, you see flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror and pull to the side of the road. The officer approaches your window, asks for your license and registration, and soon after asks you to step out of your vehicle. Before you know it, the officer has you performing a one-leg stand test, a walk-and-turn test, a horizontal gaze test, and even a handheld breathalyzer – all of which you pass with flying colors. Just as you think you are in the clear, the officer is now reading you your rights and is placing you under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). But how can this be?
While this type of scenario is rare, it is nevertheless a possibility. Despite popular belief, passing field sobriety tests is not a surefire way to avoid being charged with DUI. Field sobriety tests are highly subjective and non-scientific tests that are administered by police officers solely as a means of determining if these is enough evidence of intoxication to secure a driver’s arrest. In fact, even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) admits that each field sobriety test is only between 65 and 77 percent accurate. In other words, as many as 35% of people who fail the tests and go to jail may not be impaired.
An officer does not need a driver to fail a field sobriety test in order to secure their arrest. Instead, an officer merely needs “probable cause,” or a reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While field sobriety tests are often a primary way for an officer to gain probable cause, they are not the only method.
The following may give police sufficient probable cause to arrest you for DUI:
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- The presence of an open alcohol container in your vehicle
- Slurred speech
- Erratic driving
- Bloodshot eyes
Along the same lines, you do not need to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit of 0.08% in order to be arrested for DUI. An officer merely needs to have reason to believe that the level of alcohol in your system has made you unfit to drive.
Should I Submit or Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
Given this knowledge, it is therefore rarely a good idea to submit to a roadside field sobriety test if you have not been arrested. The results of these tests can only serve to hurt you in the long run. On the other hand, if you have been arrested, you are required under Georgia’s implied consent statute to submit to any breath, blood, or urine test that an officer should request in the event of your lawful arrest for DUI. A refusal of this test will result in a lengthy suspension of your driver’s license and greatly worsen your situation.
Roswell, Georgia DUI Attorneys
If you have been arrested for DUI in Georgia, the Roswell DUI lawyers at The Sherman Law Group can provide the aggressive representation you need to protect your rights and freedom against the prosecution’s claims. Backed by unanimous support from past clients and years of proven experience, our skilled team of advocates have what it takes to maximize your chances of securing a favorable outcome for your situation.
Call (678) 712-8561 or schedule a complimentary case review today to begin building your defense.