Getting pulled over by the police can make your pulse quicken. If the officer suspects you are driving under the influence, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. You may wonder what you should do in that situation.
Understanding your rights proves vital here, as Georgia law provides certain options when an officer asks you to undertake field sobriety tests.
Understand field sobriety tests
Field sobriety tests involve a series of physical and cognitive tasks that a police officer conducts to check for driver impairment. These tests may include the one-leg stand, walk and turn, or horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. These tests are subjective and sometimes produce inaccurate results.
Decline field sobriety tests
You hold the right to decline participation in field sobriety tests in Georgia. Police cannot force you to take these tests. If you decline, an officer may arrest you based on other observations they have made, such as erratic driving behavior, physical appearance, or the smell of alcohol. Yet, a court cannot use your refusal as evidence of guilt in a DUI case.
Implied consent law and chemical tests
While you can refuse field sobriety tests, the rules change when it comes to chemical tests such as breath, blood, or urine tests. Georgia’s implied consent law states that by driving on Georgia’s roads, you have implicitly agreed to these tests. If you refuse a chemical test, you face an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license. In 2020, over 12,000 Georgia drivers refused to do testing and faced suspension of their licenses.
Potential consequences of refusal
Declining to take field sobriety tests does not mean you will avoid a DUI charge. Even without these tests, an officer can still arrest and charge you based on other evidence.
Making the decision to refuse a field sobriety test should come with an understanding of its potential consequences. Knowledge of your rights can help you confidently and effectively handle this challenging situation.