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What tests do police use to check for suspected DUI?

In Georgia and elsewhere, if a person is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police will likely ask him or her to take part in what are called field sobriety tests. These tests check a person's physical and cognitive abilities. Failing any of these tests could result in a DUI charge.

Those who are not familiar with field sobriety tests themselves may only think of things they have seen on television or in movies -- such as saying the alphabet backward or holding arms out and touching the pointer finger to the nose. The truth of the matter is, while there are many tasks an officer could ask one to perform, there are only three standardized field sobriety tests that are recognized under the law. These are the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk and turn.

To successfully pass the one-leg stand test one must stand still, arms to the side and raise one foot off of the ground -- roughly six inches. While the foot is raised, the individual will be asked to count until the officer says he or she can stop. One will fail the test if he or she sways, hops, puts his or her foot down or does anything else to catch balance.

In order to pass the HGN, one must stand still and follow officer directions. In this test, a police officer will ask the suspected individual to use his or her eyes to follow an object -- that is it. The officer is looking for the involuntary jerking motion that occurs when the eyes roll a certain angle. If the jerking motion is thought exaggerated, this may be a sign of impairment.

Finally, in order to pass the walk-and-turn test, one must walk a straight line, turn and walk back again. This must be done heel-to-toe and one cannot do anything to help with balance -- such as puts arms out. Failing to follow directions completely and failing to maintain balance are both believed signs of impairment.

Georgia residents who are suspected of DUI may worry that failing any of these tests will mean an automatic conviction. This may not be the case. These tests are not entirely accurate and with the help of legal counsel the results may be fought in court.

Source:, "Field Sobriety Test to Assess Drunk Driving", Buddy T, Accessed on April 3, 2018

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