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Atlanta Police Training for Field Sobriety Tests

Georgia has adopted the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) developed with research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The International Association of Chiefs of Police made this recommendation in 1992, and since then, field sobriety tests have been nationallystandardized and become the nationally accepted standard. In order to ensure that the tests are conducted in a consistent manner, Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta Police, and other law enforcement offices tasked with traffic safety undergo a training program in how to properly conducts SFSTs.

DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing in the Atlanta Area

Law enforcement officers complete a short DUI detection course on conducting roadside sobriety tests. This is generally done through a 24 hour course as part of a three day training program. The training includes the NHTSA's recommended three field sobriety tests including: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN); One Leg Stand Test (OLS); and the Walk and Turn Test (WAT). 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.

DUI detection begins when the officers first observe the vehicle. If they have a reason to pull over the driver, DUI detection continues with the personal contact with the driver, and a pre-arrest screening. The pre-arrest screening consists of field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. During the DUI detection course, police are tested on proper administration of the sobriety tests, as follows:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

  1. Remove eyeglasses;
  2. Stimulus held in proper position, approximately 12 to 15 inches from the nose, just above eye level;
  3. Check pupil size and look for resting nystagmus;
  4. Check equal tracking;
  5. Smooth movement from center of nose to maximum deviation in about 2 seconds, then back across the subject's face to the other eye's maximum deviation, and repeat;
  6. Eye held at maximum deviation for at least 4 seconds, and repeat;
  7. Eye moved slowly, about 4 seconds from center to 45 degree angle for each eye, and repeat;
  8. Check for Vertical Gaze Nystagmus, and repeat.

Walk and Turn Test

  1. Tell subject to place feet on a line in a heel-to-toe manner with arms at the side;
  2. Tell subject not to begin until instructed, and ask if they understand;
  3. Tell subject and demonstrate nine heel-to-toe steps on the line;
  4. Explain and demonstrate turning procedure;
  5. Tell subject to return on the line taking nine heel-to-toe steps;
  6. Tell subject to count steps out loud;
  7. Tell subject to look at feet while walking;
  8. Tell subject not to raise arms from their sides;
  9. Tell the subject not to stop once they begin;
  10. Ask if all instructions are understood.

One Leg Test

  1. Tell subject to stand straight, feet together and arms at their sides;
  2. Tell subject not to begin until instructed, and ask if they understand;
  3. Tell subject to raise one leg, either leg, about 6 inches from the ground, with raised foot parallel to the ground, giving a demonstration;
  4. Tell subject to keep both legs straight and look at elevated foot;
  5. Tell subject to count: one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop, giving a demonstration;
  6. Check actual time subject holds leg up, timing for 30 seconds.

Law Enforcement Training

Law enforcement officers only have to get a score of 80% on their final examination to complete the training. If they fail, they have the option of a retest. In the field, however, if the police officer did not correctly administer the test, this information can be used against the officer's testimony and may result in getting field sobriety tests suppressed.

In order to be able to question the police officer's field sobriety test conclusions, a DUI defense lawyer should understand how field sobriety tests are taught, conducted, and tested. This comes from taking the same DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing training as law enforcement.

Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been charged with driving under the influence in Atlanta, or the surrounding area, you need a qualified DUI lawyer who understands SFSTs. I know the training and science behind these tests. I have not only completed the same NHTSA training courses as the police, but I am certified as an instructor to teach SFSTs to the police. I will use my training and specialized knowledge to find where the police made mistakes, and keep your record clear. Call me anytime, 24/7.

Call Us 24 Hours a Day

We have a line that will be answered any time, day or night. If you have been arrested for DUI and are facing arraignment at 8:00am tomorrow, or if you are anywhere else in the judicial process, contact the Office of Richard Lawson as soon as possible. Call Us 24 Hours a Day: (404) 800-5810


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