Z, X, Y: The Alphabet Backwards?! What DUI tests are actually legal?

Yes, a police officer may ask you to recite the alphabet backwards, walk a straight line, touch your finger to your nose, stand on one leg and count 1,001, 1002, 1003, and so on, as well as other similar type tests. These are known as field sobriety tests and as such are totally voluntary. Yes, voluntary, you are not required by law to take these tests.  Three of these field sobriety tests are approved by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and include the horizontal gaze nystagmus eye test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test, all of which are voluntary in the State of Georgia.

These tests are still routinely requested by officers during traffic stops and the goal is to help the officer determine if you are intoxicated or impaired and if an arrest should be made. The problem with these tests is they assume you are in good health, and once performed, the officer must make a subjective determination to your sobriety or lack thereof. Interestingly, if you are a suspect, the officer does not have to tell you that you can refuse to perform these tests.  If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, most lawyers recommend that you decline to take field sobriety tests as they are often inaccurate and can lead to your arrest and provide evidence to aid in your conviction.

Isn’t there a Test I have to take?

Implied Consent testing, not to be confused with roadside field sobriety tests, is part of the legal fiction of “implied consent” law. Under Georgia’s implied consent law, you are technically required to take a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine once you have been arrested for DUI. The Arresting Officer should read the Georgia Implied Consent warning to you, and it ends with the question, “Will you submit…?” At that point in the process, your refusal to submit to take the test simply means you have refused to abide by your “implied consent” you gave when you accepted your Driver’s License from the State of Georgia (or when you operated a vehicle on Georgia roads). If you agree, then the results of the test administered subsequently (usually a blood sample or a breath test from the Intoxilyzer) will be admissible in the DUI criminal case against you. If you refuse, the refusal can sometimes be admissible against you. The pros and cons of submitting or refusing, after an arrest, are discussed on my website, tedmorganlaw.com.

Should you find yourself stopped for suspicion of DUI, it is important you know that you may refuse a field sobriety test without much consequence, but once arrested, your refusal or consent will impact your case. If you are charged with DUI, contact Columbus DUI attorney Ted Morgan as soon as possible to come to your defense. He is an expert in defending DUI cases and will work tenaciously to get you the best possible outcome related to your charges.