Getting pulled over for any reason can be very frightening, but especially if you’ve had a few drinks. You may ask yourself in such a situation whether you are required to submit to a breath or blood test.
In short, the answer is yes and no.
If this happens to you, it’s very important that you understand your rights. Here’s what you should know:
Roadside Sobriety Tests vs. Chemical Tests
Roadside sobriety tests are not the same as chemical tests, so it’s important not to confuse the two.
If you’re pulled over because an officer believes you are intoxicated, he or she may ask you to perform a series of sobriety tests. These tests are designed to help the officer determine whether you are safe enough to drive or if you must be taken into custody.
Here are some examples of roadside sobriety tests:
- Walking in a straight line
- The officer may ask you to walk in a straight line, with or without following a sidewalk contraction joint.
- Reciting the alphabet without singing
- The officer may request that you say the alphabet without using the well-known tune to help you remember.
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test
- You may be asked to follow the officer’s finger or pen as he or she moves it from side to side about six inches from your nose. If your eyes cannot smoothly follow the movements, you may fail the test.
- The one-leg stand
- This test helps identify your balancing ability, typically while doing something else at the same time. You may also be asked to place your hands by your side and count by thousands (one one thousand, two one thousand, etc.)
- Finger-to-nose test
- This test helps determine your balancing ability. You may be asked to stand straight with your feet together, close your eyes, extend your arms, and touch your finger to your nose.
- Rhomberg balance test
- If this test is requested, you may be asked to stand straight, tilt your head back, close your eyes, and guess how long it takes for 30 seconds to go by.
You have the right, as a Georgia driver, to refuse a roadside sobriety test. However, most police officers won’t tell you that you are within your rights to refuse these examinations. So if you choose not to perform these tests, the officer cannot force you to do so.
Note: If a police officer believes that you are intoxicated and you refuse to submit to a roadside sobriety test, he or she has the right to arrest you.
As you likely noticed, breath and blood tests were not listed under roadside sobriety tests. That is because breath, blood, and urine tests are chemical tests, which should only come after an arrest.
If you are arrested for a DUI, you must submit to a chemical sobriety test as required by law.
Breathalyzer Tests Aren’t Always Accurate
It would be great if breathalyzer tests could always be 100% accurate, but the reality is they aren’t. The margin of error for these types of tests can be up to 15%! That’s a pretty high margin of error when your freedom is on the line.
Blood Tests Rely On Time
Blood tests can only be accurate if conducted within 6-12 hours after your last drink.
It’s also important to note that people with conditions like diabetes and high blood ketones may have misleading blood alcohol test results.
Urine Tests Are Fairly Accurate
A urine test can detect alcohol levels up to five days after consumption.
However, urine tests can produce false positives if you have ethanol in your system. Everyday products containing ethanol are commonly found in grocery stores and pharmacies.
Overall, if you are pulled over for a DUI, you have the right to refuse a roadside sobriety test. However, the officer then has the right to arrest you if he or she believes you are intoxicated. If you are arrested, you are required to take a chemical sobriety test.
We’re Here to Help
If you have been arrested for a DUI, it’s vital to seek legal representation right away. When your freedom is on the line, there is no time to waste. Don’t hesitate to contact our office right away with any questions you may have.
Contact our experienced attorneys at The Dickerson Firm LLC by calling (678) 903-1336 or by filling out our online contact form.