Can the Police Really Use a Field Sobriety Test if They Suspect You’re Under the Influence of Drugs in Georgia?

A lot of people assume that nobody can tell when they’re high. Just because they don’t seem any different around their friends, doesn’t mean a police officer won’t spot it a mile away. If someone is using drugs and then gets behind the wheel, there’s a good chance they’ll get pulled over for DUI and given field sobriety tests.

When the police pull you over, there are certain things they look for. They don’t just assume that all drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They are looking out for the safety of the general public. They also have to make sure everyone is following the traffic laws.

But if an officer does stop you, they’re going to check to see if you’re drunk or high. Some of the things they’re going to look for include the following:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Odor or marijuana
  • Profuse sweating
  • Nervous energy
  • Paraphernalia or drugs in plain view

If the officers notice any of these things they’re going to presume that you’re under the influence. If this is the case, you will be arrested and charged with DUI and will likely need an experienced DUI attorney.

What Exactly Do Field Sobriety Tests Measure?

Almost everyone has seen someone on television get pulled over for DUI. They’ve seen the driver panic when the red and blue lights appear in their rear-view mirror. Then they see the officer ask them to get out of the car to take field sobriety tests.

If you’ve ever been pulled over for DUI, you’ve probably taken field sobriety tests. These tests typically involve at least the following three (3) components:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): This is when the officer will ask you to follow an object with your eyes. They’re looking for a few different indicators of impairment. Yes, they want to see if you can follow the object. But they’re also looking at how much your eyes jerk when doing this part of the test. If you’re impaired, your eye darting will be more exaggerated.
  • Walk and Turn – Almost all FST involve this part of the test. The officer will ask the driver to walk in one direction, heel to toe, for a certain number of steps (usually 9 or 10). Then the driver has to turn around and repeat the same thing in the other direction.
  • One leg stand – Most people who are drunk or high are not able to stand on one left for any length of time. The officers will ask you to stand on one leg for about thirty seconds. If you wobble or fall, it’s an indication that you’re under the influence of drugs.

Police officers are trained to look for the signs that someone is drunk or high. Just because there isn’t a breathalyzer to prove that you’re high doesn’t mean the cops can’t prove it. The way you perform on the field sobriety test will determine whether you’re arrested for DUI or not. Your Athens DUI attorney can fight the results of the FST. However, keep in mind – they are videotaped. If you performed poorly, there may not be much your attorney can do.

What are the Penalties for DUI in Athens, Georgia?

If you’re convicted of DUI in Georgia, you’re going to be facing some pretty serious penalties. Even for a first offense, you could be facing jail time. The Georgia drunk driving laws and penalties are the same whether you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • 1st Offense:

o    Up to 1 year in jail

o    Fines of up to $1,000

o    40 hours of community service

o    1-year license suspension

  • 2nd Offense:

o    Up to 1 year in jail

o    Fines of up to $1,000

o    3 years license suspension

o    Probation

o    40 hours community service

o    Installation of Ignition Interlock Device

As you can see, these penalties are pretty serious. Even if it’s your first offense, you can lose your license for up to a year. This will make it very difficult to get to work or school. It also will have an impact on your insurance.

Contact a Skilled DUI Lawyer in Athens Right Away

The police use the field sobriety test in order to determine if a driver is intoxicated. Sometimes, the breathalyzer may register just under the legal limit. In cases where the police still believe someone is impaired, they can use this test to make sure. The test has several parts and can be intimidating even for people who haven’t had a single drink.

If you refused the field sobriety test and are afraid it will hurt your case, call our office. Our DUI lawyers in Athens know the new laws that have to do with refusing a field sobriety test.