The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a standard battery of field sobriety tests in an effort to nationalize consistent roadside sobriety tests. Like most states, Georgia has adopted the NHTSA's recommended field sobriety tests, including standardized training for law enforcement officers. But just because police officers have the training does not mean that they always do the tests exactly as they are supposed to.
Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Training
Most police departments and Georgia State Patrol officers take a short, 24 hour long training program on how to properly conduct field sobriety tests. This includes how to properly instruct and demonstrate the tests, what to observe, and how to record field sobriety test findings. The three standardized tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test; One Leg Stand test; and the Walk and Turn test. Specifically, the course demonstrates proper instructions for each test, what to look for when drivers are performing the test, and how to score and report the test results.
Eye examinations include detecting signs of drug or alcohol impairment with the horizontal gaze nystagmus, what drugs will not cause nystagmus, and what other clues and cues an eye test may reveal. The police look for resting nystagmus, tracking ability, pupil size, horizontal and vertical gaze nystagmus through use of a stimulus across the eyes such as a pen or penlight.
While conducting the standard field sobriety tests, officers are essentially trying to make a determination on how impaired a driver may be. Most police officers have no medical training beyond basic CPR and first aid, and are not licensed to make a medical diagnosis as to the drug and alcohol effects on an individual driver. After conducting the tests, they are also instructed on how to write reports to show why the driver was drunk. This includes instruction on describing the testing observations clearly and convincingly in written reports, to make sure it is consistent with any video or audio evidence.
Most people don't know what the police are looking for when they conduct field sobriety tests. Police, on the other hand, spend hours training how to do these tests, practicing them, and using them in the field. However, they are not the only ones who can take this training. An experienced DUI defense lawyer has the same training as the police in this area, and will understand exactly how to attack a DUI case against their client because they know more than the police do about field sobriety tests. Make sure that before you hire a DUI lawyer, they have undergone the same DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing training as local law enforcement.
Local Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer
If the police gave you improper instructions, failed to observe the results correctly, or did not take into account the reasons why you might fail a field sobriety test, that evidence can be challenged in court. For this reason, it is important for your DUI defense lawyer to have the same training as the police, so they'll know what to look for, and how to question the officers to show their mistakes. Many of the attorneys at Lawson and Berry have had the same DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing as our Atlanta police officers. We know what to look for to get these bad test results thrown out. Don't wait until tomorrow, you can call 24/7.