Being stopped by a police officer in Atlanta can be one of the most stressful events you will experience, especially if the officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is important to hire a DUI lawyer if you are arrested.No matter the reason for the initial stop, a DUI investigation may be initiated if the officer observes certain clues such as the smell of alcohol on your breath, open containers, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes. The first question often asked is whether you have been drinking, followed by the request to step out of your vehicle.
Many people do not realize that you are not required by law to answer any questions by law enforcement officers or to perform any field sobriety evaluations. All field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. The officer uses your answers to questions, his observations of your behavior and speech, and performance on field sobriety tests to subjectively determine whether you are less safe to drive and under the influence of alcohol or drugs and will likely be used to build the state's case against you at trial.
The standardized field sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (or HGN), the one leg stand and the walk and turn, and can involve other tests as listed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Your performance on these tests can be admitted as evidence against you in trial to show that you were less safe to drive the night of your arrest. There are many circumstances that could allow for the field sobriety tests to be suppressed and inadmissible as evidence against you at trial. Law enforcement officers must be properly trained and certified in field sobriety testing and must observe specific clues.
A medical screening must be completed prior to administering the field sobriety tests as many pre-existing injuries and illnesses can affect your performance on this test. In addition, your ability to pass these tests can be affected by your weight, shoes, the weather, and roadside conditions. A DUI lawyer can challenge the circumstances of the testing conditions, the qualification of the law enforcement officer, the reliability and accuracy of the tests, and the subjective nature of the evaluations and how they are scored.