If you are pulled over in Georgia on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you may be asked to take a series of field sobriety tests. However, you are not required by law to do this—in fact, you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand their rights and agree to these sometimes unreliable and unfair tests. Maybe you are one of them.

What is field sobriety testing?

When a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he may ask you to submit to a number of different kinds of test to determine whether to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI).

These tests are performed right there on the side of the road. How the suspected driver performs on them may determine whether he is arrested and taken to the police station for blood, urine, or breath testing.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) tried to make the results of these tests more accurate by standardizing them. Three roadside tests constitute the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST):

  • The Walk and Turn – Just as it sounds, you are given a simple set of verbal instructions while performing simple physical movements—walking and turning. Being unable to do these two things at once raises a red flag.
  • The One-Leg Stand – The law enforcement officer gives you instructions to stand on one foot and count by thousands. During this test, your ability to balance is assessed.
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – Officers check to see if your eyes jerk involuntarily as they move to the side. This is one sign of being impaired.


Other non-standard tests may be given at a traffic stop. While they are even less reliable than the three listed above, some officers may ask you to:

  • Recite the alphabet or count backwards
  • Bring a finger to the nose with eyes closed
  • Stand with feet together and look up—perhaps while holding your arms to the side


No matter what you are asked to do, just remember—you do not have to submit to field sobriety testing in Georgia. Not ever.


All is not lost if you agree to field sobriety tests.

Because this type of roadside testing is so unreliable, a strong Alpharetta DUI lawyer can often challenge the results and win.

The simple fact is that these tests are unreliable. The NHSTA admits that even in a well-lit room, sober people can appear inebriated. In fact, 32% of these clean, sober test subjects were labeled over the legal limit on the walk and turn, 35% on the one-leg stand, and 23% on the HGN.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, call on Alpharetta DUI defense attorney Scott Miller to evaluate your case. The chances are very good that the kinds of tests you were given are flawed. Just call 770-408-1001 or complete the confidential form on this page to see where you stand.

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