For those of you who have followed my advice for years, you know that one the “rules” if stopped by the police is: You never submit to the roadside field tests.
Police who think you may be DUI will normally say that they would like for you to take the roadside field tests so they “determine if you are safe to drive.” Which of course is complete BS! In reality the cops are gathering evidence to use against you in court.
On August 1, 2016, the Ga. Court of Appeals gave us one more reason to refuse these field sobriety tests. One of the roadside tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, or HGN. This is where the cop watches your eye as it follows his pen or finger, and if your eye “jerks” at certain intervals, his training tells him that your “blood alcohol content” (BAC) could be above a .08.
Now, there is really no valid scientific studies which have shown that One can tell a person’s BAC through the use of the HGN. In fact, most doctors will tell you they are not taught such drivel in medical school. In spite of that, however, there are studies, which were paid for by the Federal government, where police conducted the HGN on subjects and supposedly were able to show that, 67% of the time, the officer could correctly tell if a person’s BAC was above a .10.
There are conflicting studies when it comes to showing if the cops can tell if a person’s BAC is above a .08. And Georgia courts do NOT allow a cop to testify as to a specific BAC based on the HGN (because, in reality, there is no scientific method of doing so).
However, in the case of Spencer v. St. , decided on August 1, 2016, our Court of Appeals ruled that it is ok now for a cop to say, “based on my training, the presence of 4 or more “clues” on the HGN would indicate the person’s BAC is above a .08.” In Georgia, .08 is the legal limit.
What’s interesting about the Spencer case is that the cop found 4 out of a possible 6 clues; while there are police training manuals which say that 4 out of 6 clues indicates a BAC of above .08, there are also trainings (such as Drug Recognition Expert Training) which show that 4 out of 6 could indicate a BAC of as low as a .05! (which is below the legal limit)
Apparently Spencer’s trial lawyer did not use that as evidence to try to prove Spencer’s BAC could have been BELOW a .08.
In any event, this is just another reason why you should NEVER agree to submit to roadside field sobriety tests.