Drunk driving charges have the potential of affecting your life in a big way. They can strip you of your license, threaten you with jail or prison time, hit you with massive fines, force you to implement an ignition interlock device, and subject you to a criminal record that can have harmful consequences on your employment. In some cases, officers rely on field sobriety tests to justify a DUI arrest, which then allows prosecutors to build their drunk driving cases. But field sobriety tests are notoriously untrustworthy, and in Georgia they are completely voluntary. This means there is no penalty for refusing to participate in a field sobriety test.
Challenging the validity of field sobriety tests
There are a number of field sobriety tests that are conducted out in the field. Amongst them are the walk-and-turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the one leg stand. Each has standardized practices, and instruction must be clearly given by police officers. These officers should also take any other variables into affect when determining whether you’ve passed a particular test.
Take, for example, the walk-and-turn test. Here, you’re instructed to take a number of steps, in heel-to-toe fashion, along a straight line with your arms outstretched. Once you take the requisite amount of steps, you’re asked to pivot and return in the same way. Officers look for an inability to follow instructions, lack of balance, and an inability to step in a heel-to-toe fashion as signs of intoxication. But there may be other issues that cause you to fail this test. Uneven ground, the particular shoes you’re wearing, and certain medical conditions can all have an affect on your ability to follow instructions and maintain your balance.
Leave no stone unturned
While some sort of plea deal may ultimately be in your best interests, you shouldn’t agree to one until you’ve analyzed all of the evidence to see if there’s a way to beat your DUI charges. An attorney who is experienced in criminal defense can help you spot witness bias, inconsistencies in witness testimony, and errors in the administration and recording of field sobriety, breathalyzer, and blood tests, each of which could lead to a positive outcome for your case.