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Can you be convicted of DUI if you fail a field sobriety test?

Drinking and driving is dangerous, so the authorities invest a great deal of resources into arresting and punishing anyone caught driving under the influence (DUI).

But not everyone who gets arrested for a DUI is actually guilty. You can be arrested on suspicion of being impaired simply for failing a field sobriety test.

What are field sobriety tests?

There are three standard field sobriety tests used by officers to assess a driver's level of impairment:

  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus testing: Using a penlight and tracking your eyes, the officer looks for involuntary eye movements that are indicative of intoxication.
  2. Walk and turn testing: The officer will ask you to take a certain number of steps in a straight line, heel-to-toe, then turn and come back. When impaired, people can seldom accomplish this feat.
  3. One-legged stand testing: The officer simply asks you to balance on one foot for a short period without hopping, using your arms to help you keep your balance or falling over

These tests may be used in conjunction with chemical testing devices (like a Breathalyzer) or on their own to give the officer reasonable suspicion for a DUI arrest. Since roadside chemical tests can't pick up every known intoxicating substance someone might be on, the absence of alcohol in your system doesn't necessarily mean you'll escape arrest.

How can someone innocent end up arrested?

How can you end up arrested even though you've never touched anything harder than aspirin or coffee in your life? All it takes is an inner ear problem that throws off your balance, excessive fatigue or low-blood sugar to fail the roadside testing.

An experienced defense attorney understands the problems in the system and knows how to protect your rights. If you've been charged with a DUI in Georgia, reach out today.

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