An officer in the Polk County Police Department, Officer Casey Lyall, completed a DUI Detection and Standardization Field Sobriety Testing Course recently that was taught by the Georgia Police Academy Division of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
These courses help officers learn how to "recognize" when an individual may be driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or other substances. Officers are also instructed on how to identify other common errors committed by people when driving. This includes patterns of behavior that may be indicative of intoxication.
Many students from different police departments across the state of Georgia attended the workshop, where they were also taught more secure methods of stopping and approaching drunk driving suspects. They were further instructed on techniques that could help them determine whether a driver was under the influence at the time of the traffic stop.
Officers are particularly taught how to properly implement field sobriety tests in order to detect intoxication. They carry out practical exercises as well as learn the theory behind these "tests."
If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DUI as the result of a "failed" field sobriety test, an experienced Georgia DUI attorney can defend your case and protect your constitutional rights.
Limitations of Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia
Field sobriety tests are very commonly used by Georgia officers in an effort to determine whether a particular driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of a traffic stop. The three standard field sobriety tests officers use include:
- the walk and turn test
- the one-leg stand test
- the horizontal gaze nystagmus test
All are considered "standard" tests to be used on suspects who may be under the influence, but how accurate are these tests really? Each test has been shown over time to cause false positives in people who are not intoxicated, and even some who never touched a drop of alcohol or even a small amount of drugs.
Factors That May Affect Your Performance on the "Tests"
Many things can affect a person's performance and ability to perform the field sobriety test besides intoxication. These alternative causes of poor performance can cause you to seem or look intoxicated when you are not under the influence.
- inability to balance on one leg for an extended period due to a physical condition
- difficulty walking in a straight line due to an injury or body composition
- you are a higher weight individual
- you have a natural eye nystagmus
- speech impediments
- you are elderly
- you are pregnant
- nervousness or anxiety
Any one or a few of these combined together could cause you to perform in such a way that you fail the test, even though you were not intoxicated. With the help of your defense lawyer, you can prove in court that you were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest.