Admissibility of Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia DUI “Less Safe” Cases
In defending a Georgia DUI – Less Safe charge, one of the critical pieces of evidence that must be address is field sobriety testing. The first step that we must take is an evaluation of whether the field sobriety tests, which the officer uses to form his opinion as to whether you were impaired as a result of alcohol or drugs (DUI), will be admissible in Court against you. Price, which is quoted below, provides crucial guidance on this issue. This is a fundamental case for defending the Georgia DUI less safe charge:
Price challenges on state law grounds the admission of testimony regarding the results of a field sobriety test because she was *225 not first given Miranda12warnings. Decisions of this Court and the court of appeals have routinely held that under Georgia law Miranda warnings must precede a **265 request to perform a field sobriety test only when the suspect is “in custody.”13 The test of “in custody” is whether a “reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have thought the detention would not be temporary.”14 The evidence in this case was undisputed that Price performed the field sobriety test only after the police officer informed her that the license check showed she had a suspended license, he had a strong impression that she was intoxicated based on the smell of alcohol, she had to steady herself against the car to keep from falling, and he would take her to jail for DUI regardless of whether she performed the field evaluations. Under these circumstances we must conclude that, having been informed that she was going to jail, a reasonable person would have believed that the detention was not temporary. Therefore, the failure to give the Miranda warnings renders evidence regarding the field sobriety tests inadmissible.
Price v. State, 269 Ga. 222, 224-25, 498 S.E.2d 262, 264-65 (1998).
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