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Refusing Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests

If an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, they may request you to take a Breathalyzer test and various field sobriety tests. However, drivers should be aware that they have the right to refuse these tests, although the refusal may come with consequences.

Based on Georgia's implied consent laws, drivers are required to submit to chemical testing if they are lawfully arrested for drunk driving. Refusing a roadside Breathalyzer test may constitute an implied consent violation and could cost you your driver's license for up to one year.

Breathalyzer tests need to be administered correctly and testing devices must be properly maintained and calibrated to give accurate results. Unfortunately, many officers do not take the time to follow proper protocols when administering the test and fail to ensure the testing device is working properly before administering it. As a result, even a minimal amount of alcohol can lead to a reading over the legal limit of .08.

Field sobriety tests refer to physical tests conducted roadside to help officers determine how intoxicated someone is. Common tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand, and walk-and-turn, and officers may make errors when administering and scoring these tests. Unlike chemical tests, field sobriety tests are voluntary and, therefore, there is no penalty for refusal. Keep in mind that in a high-pressure situation, with different environmental factors, even someone not under the influence of alcohol can fail a field sobriety test. However, even if you refuse, an officer can still arrest you for a DUI if they have probable cause to believe you were driving drunk.

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