Field Sobriety Test: A Brief Overview

Most people have heard of a field sobriety test. This is especially true for people old enough to have their driver’s license. If the cops in South Carolina ever pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving, there are certain things they’re looking for.

For example, if they smell alcohol or marijuana, or think you are under the influence, they’ll ask you to do one of two things. The first thing they’ll ask you to do is take a breathalyzer test. If you don’t perform well on this test, you’ll be asked to perform a field sobriety test. The results of both of these tests can help convict you of DUI in court.

Your Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyer will have to find a way to challenge the findings of the field sobriety test. The good news is that many of these challenges have been successful over the years. Since the field sobriety test is administered by a human, it is susceptible to human error. This is what your criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina is banking on.

Here, we’ll describe the various parts of the standard field sobriety test. We will also discuss what specific things the test measures. Finally, we’ll explain what happens if you fail the test. If you still have questions about your own DUI case in South Carolina, give us a call. You can sit down with one of our seasoned Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyers right away.

What is the Point of a Field Sobriety Test in South Carolina?

When the police first decide to pull you over, it could be due to any number of things. They may have noticed you weaving in and out of traffic. They may have seen you driving way too slow given the speed limit.

Or there’s a chance they saw you pull out of a popular bar or nightclub right around closing time. Whatever the reason, if they suspect you’re drunk driving, there are a couple ways they can confirm their suspicions.

One of the more popular ways police officers check to see if a driver is under the influence is by having them perform a field sobriety test. This test is meant to gauge your motor skills and coordination. It also gives them a chance to see if you can follow instructions. If you don’t perform well on this test, there’s a good chance you’ll be arrested and charged with DUI.

The Test is Designed to Gauge Driver Impairment

The field sobriety test has been updated over the years. The main goal is to ascertain when a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While a breathalyzer is an excellent tool, a lot of drivers today refuse to take the breath test.

They don’t often refuse to do the field sobriety test. They know it can be used against them in court. If the judge or jury hears that you refused to take the field sobriety test, they’ll naturally assume you were guilty.

The field sobriety test is meant to gauge whether you are in a position to drive safely. If the officers don’t feel that you can safely operate a motor vehicle, they’ll have no choice but to arrest you and charge you with DUI.

the police officer can assess whether they can arrest you for DUI

There are 3 Main Parts to a Common Field Sobriety Test

Most police officers in South Carolina use the standard field sobriety test. This includes three parts, each of which are designed to measure your coordination and fine motor skills as well as your ability to follow directions:

  • Stand on one leg for a specific period of time
  • Heel-to-toe march from one side of the road to the other
  • Test where you are asked to follow a pen or other object with your eyes (and not with your head)

This is probably the kind of test you’ve seen administered on reality crime shows. This is what you should expect if you were to be pulled over for DUI.

Your Clemson, South Carolina DUI Lawyer Can Challenge the Results of the Field Sobriety Test

If your Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyer believes your field sobriety test wasn’t administered properly, they’ll say so. They can reach out to the prosecutor and ask them to dismiss the charges against you. It’s highly doubtful that this request will be honored. However, it may be enough to convince the prosecutor of agreeing to a favorable plea.

Some of the things your attorney can challenge include the following:

  • The weather conditions were not conducive to a field sobriety test
  • You were under the influence of a legitimate prescription medication that made it difficult for you to perform the test
  • You were suffering from a medical condition that made it difficult for you to take the test
  • The instructions provided to you by the officer were not clear
  • You performed well on the test, yet the police officers decided to arrest you for DUI anyway

Whether one of the challenges works will depend on the facts of your case. Ideally, the prosecutor will be willing to negotiate a fair plea rather than have you argue the point at trial.

Your Best Chance of Avoiding a Conviction is to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina

If you’ve been charged with DUI, you’re facing serious penalties. You will be facing hefty fines as well as possible jail time. The best way to avoid these penalties is by not getting convicted in the first place. Your odds are conviction are a lot lower if you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina.

Of course, they can’t perform miracles. If you failed the field sobriety test in spectacular fashion, they may not be able to do much in the way of an acquittal. However, depending on the way the field sobriety test was administered, they may be able to challenge your conviction.

The only way to find out is to call and speak with an experienced Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyer. They can review the evidence the State has against you. They can also watch a video of your field sobriety test.

If they feel there’s room for a challenge, they’ll definitely make one. With so much at stake, you shouldn’t face this alone. Take the time to meet with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina as soon as possible after your arrest.