When a member of law enforcement suspects you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a number of tests may be given to determine if those suspicions are warranted. In most cases, these DUI tests start with the officer requesting one or more field sobriety exercises, such as standing on one foot or walking a straight line. If you show signs of impairment while performing the exercises, the officer may then administer a second round of DUI tests.
Because they are so subjective, field sobriety exercises are not legally required. In fact, the primary purpose of field sobriety tests is to collect evidence to support your eventual arrest and prove that the officer had reason to request chemical testing. In light of these facts, it is best to politely decline if an officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test. Under the DUI law in Georgia, field sobriety tests are completely voluntary.
Once an officer has sufficient cause to suspect you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, O.C.G.A. § 40-5-55 requires that a chemical test be administered. This chemical test will be used to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). As defined under both Georgia law, it is illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher.
Depending on the circumstances, the officer will administer one of three chemical tests to determine your blood alcohol content. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each test:
▪ Breath tests: While they are the most common type of chemical test, breath tests are not always reliable. Since the test uses a breath sample to calculate BAC, they often detect residual mouth alcohol—which means the results may be inflated as a result. Products such as gum, breath mints, and mouthwash can also affect your breathalyzer results. Georgia uses the Intoxilyzer 9000 machine.
▪ Urine tests: As the least accurate form of chemical testing, urine tests are not often used. Although the test detects drugs and alcohol, its calculations tend to vary based on when you had your last drink. As such, the results may not accurately reflect your true blood alcohol content.
▪ Blood tests: The most accurate of all three tests if properly conducted, blood tests actually use a blood sample to calculate blood alcohol content. Like urine tests, blood tests will also identify any drugs that you have in your system.
How Test Results Impact a Case
Every DUI case is different, so it is always best to have an attorney review the specific facts in your case. Kohn & Yager helps drivers across the state find the ideal defense strategy for their Georgia DUI case. Call us today to request a free evaluation of your case, or submit your information online through the form located below.