DUI Charges: Am I Required to Take a Field Sobriety Test in Georgia?
A traffic stop is stressful—especially so if you can tell that the officer believes that you are under the influence. You may be asked to take a field sobriety test (FST)—such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, or the walk-and-turn—at the stop. You are not required to take a field sobriety test in Georgia. Unlike chemical tests, there is no implied consent law for FSTs. Here, our Cobb County DUI defense attorney provides a comprehensive guide to the key things that you should know about your rights and responsibilities regarding field sobriety tests in Georgia.
There are Serious Questions About the Reliability of Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests have long been a standard procedure in DUI investigations—but there are serious questions about their reliability. One issue is that many sober individuals may have difficulty performing these tasks due to various physical or neurological conditions. Beyond that, nerves, weather conditions, or even the subjective judgment of the law enforcement officer administering the test may influence the results. Finally, the NHTSA’s manual for field sobriety tests emphasizes that even very small errors can lead to inaccurate test results.
You are Not Required to Take A Field Sobriety Test in Georgia (No Statutory Penalty)
You do not have to take a field sobriety test in Georgia. Under state law, motorists are not required by law to submit to a field sobriety test during a traffic stop. A law enforcement officer may ask a driver to perform these tests if they suspect impairment, but the driver has the right to refuse.
There is no statutory penalty specifically for refusing the field sobriety test—unlike with chemical tests. However, refusal can lead the officer to rely on other observations or evidence in determining whether to make a DUI arrest. That you declined to take a field sobriety test does not offer automatic protection against being arrested and charged with a DUI.
Georgia Implied Consent Law—Refusal of Breath Test Could Lead to License Suspension
Georgia’s implied consent law dictates that drivers implicitly agree to take a chemical test, such as a breath test, if suspected of DUI. If a driver refuses this test, it could lead to an immediate license suspension. Under the law, refusal can result in a one-year suspension for the first offense, with subsequent refusals leading to even longer suspensions. To be clear, the suspension is administrative and separate from any criminal charges for DUI that a driver may also face.
Contact Our Cobb County DUI Defense Lawyer Today
At Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C., our Georgia DUI defense attorney is a former prosecutor and a tenacious advocate for clients. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DUI and you have any questions about a field sobriety test, we are here as a resource. Contact us today to arrange a fully confidential, no commitment initial consultation. From our law office in Marietta, we defend DUI charges throughout Cobb County, including in Mableton, Kennesaw, Smyrna, and Vinings.