Field Sobriety Tests are used by law enforcement in Georgia to help determine if a motorist should be charged with DUI. The tests include the walk and turn, the one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. The tests are not mandatory. You can decline to take them.
You were probably being videotaped because just about every Forsyth County patrol car is equipped with a video camera. “Looking bad” on a video of a DUI stop is something that can be addressed in several different ways. In your case, a recent traffic accident can cause physical issues that can make performing well on the field sobriety tests challenging. Of course, if you have physical limitations, completing the tests can be quite difficult. Your DUI lawyer needs to tell the prosecutor about the car accident. Besides injuries, other things, like the conditions of the ground upon which the tests are conducted can influence performance. If the tests are done on an incline, if the ground has holes or if the weather conditions are bad (it might have been raining, or it was very cold) then the results of the field sobriety tests could be called into questions.
You should usually decline to take the field sobriety tests. They are unscientific, often incorrectly administered and merely provide evidence to prosecute you for DUI. That is especially true, as in your case, where there is an injury that can impact your performance on the tests. Many people suffer from injuries or conditions that make the tests unreliable. Indeed, many people have chronic neck, leg or back problems. Other people have eye-related issues like nystagmus. The tests are graded using “clues” that the officer identifies while a suspect is performing the tests. The more clues found, the higher the likelihood that the person is intoxicated, according to the official test protocol.
Shoes certainly can have a great impact on field sobriety test performance. Many DUI attorneys neglect to determine if a client arrested for drunk driving was wearing footwear that made field sobriety test performance more difficult, if not impossible. In your case, the law enforcement officer should have instructed you that you could remove your shoes to do the tests. It could actually be helpful to your defense that you were wearing heels because your poor performance on the tests can be reasonably attributed to your choice of footwear, as opposed to intoxication.
As part of the “standardized field sobriety tests” commonly administered during a DUI stop, the police officer is supposed to look at your eye movements to try to detect “nystagmus,” which is an involuntary jerking of the eye. Research has shown that this involuntary eye movement equates with alcohol consumption. The test is called Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). It was developed by a federal government agency to help police detect impaired drivers. As DUI defense lawyers, we can argue that the test was not correctly performed by the arresting officer. We have argued that many law enforcement officials have not been sufficiently trained to administer the test and that its accuracy is often in doubt.
Developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in Washington, D.C., field sobriety tests are utilized by the Forsyth County sheriff's department and the Cumming police department to determine if a driver is intoxicated.