Law enforcement officers in Georgia devote considerable time to monitoring traffic and arresting people suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. When police officers initiate traffic stops, they might ask drivers to submit to a field sobriety test that could include the nystagmus test. During this test, an officer will attempt to judge the bouncing and jerking of the subject's eyes while tracking a pen or pen light that the officer moves back and forth 12 to 15 inches in front of the driver's face.
The nystagmus test evaluates involuntary eye movements. The recent consumption of alcohol reduces people's ability to control eye movements smoothly. An officer should have a clear view of the subject's face during the test. Pronounced bouncing or jerking of eyes could give an officer cause to arrest someone on suspicion of drunk driving. Police officers also employ the one-leg-stand and walk-and-turn tests to detect signs of intoxication.
Police officers might choose to conduct these tests if drivers have trouble finding their license and registration. Odors of alcohol and bloodshot eyes also arouse suspicion during traffic stops.
Drunk driving arrests happen to people from all walks of life, but a person should not assume that the consequences will be minimal. After an arrest, a person will need to respond to criminal charges, and the representation of an attorney could protect a person's rights. An attorney might identify mistakes in the administration of a field sobriety test that could be part of a DUI defense strategy. Questioning evidence might result in a case dismissal, reduction in charges or a lenient sentence.