The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed several field sobriety tests that are used by law enforcement officials nationwide to determine if a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence. These tests are used before, or in conjunction with, traditional blood alcohol tests and are administered prior to a driver being detained.
The results of these tests are often used against the driver in future court hearings providing proof of their intoxication. Understanding that a sobriety test could incriminate them some drivers refuse to take tests when police officers attempt to administer them.
Knowing that you can refuse a sobriety test can help you prepare for being pulled over by the police if you are suspected of driving under the influence.
Many people incorrectly believe that physical field sobriety testing is a guaranteed way to show that someone is intoxicated. While the science behind most of the neurological field testing methods is solid, that does not protect drivers from errors made by the police officers administering the tests.
Giving a driver incorrect instructions can easily lead to a driver “failing” the test. Also, a person who has cognitive difficulties, mental health issues, or physical illness may be unable to successfully complete field sobriety tests even though he or she is completely free from the influences of any intoxicant.
The majority of drivers believe field sobriety tests are mandatory, but in reality they are not. The Georgia State Constitution protects citizens from being compelled to incriminate themselves, meaning no driver can be forced to take a test that may ultimately become evidence against that person.
Therefore, compliance is not required when it comes to submitting to testing and Georgia law has confirmed this in recent Supreme Court of Georgia rulings that clarify the state’s constitution and the rights of Georgia drivers. No driver is required to consent to roadside testing and remember, going along with the testing does not mean that the police will then go easy on you.
Refusing to perform any of the physical or chemical tests does not mean you incur an initial penalty in addition to ones that you face if you are later found guilty of driving under the influence. Police officers do not usually tell drivers that all tests are voluntary and that refusing to participate in the evaluations is legal. There are no points taken from your license, and after refusal, the police must show probable cause for pulling you over. Without the ability to test you, the police must then come up with another justification for detaining or arresting you since, even after you are in police custody, they cannot compel you to participate in testing.
Ask for a Lawyer
When the police pull you over and begin demanding that you exit your vehicle to perform field sobriety tests, ask for a dui attorney immediately. Letting the police know that you do not fully understand the process and would prefer to let an attorney handle things for you is the best way to protect yourself. The legal team at Yeargan & Kert, LLC is here to provide you with the legal representation you need. Contact one of our Atlanta, Georgia metro area locations today to schedule an initial consultation.