When the cops pull you over for drinking and driving, they already have a list of field sobriety tests and things they plan on keeping their eye on. For example, as soon as they walk toward your car, they look to see if you’re scrambling to hide stuff or turn down the radio. Once they arrive at your window, they’re already sniffing to see if they detect the smell of alcohol or marijuana.
While they’re asking you to get your license and registration, they’re paying attention to your eyes to see if they’re bloodshot. They’re also listening to see if you’re slurring your word. They do all of this without you even noticing. By the time you tell your DUI defense lawyer in Clemson what happened, you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI.
The reason officers are so good at detecting these things is that they are trained very well. When it comes to evaluating a driver for a potential DUI arrest, they know exactly what to look for. And, despite what some people think, cops don’t get pleasure out of arresting people. They would rather people not drink and drive in the first place. However, they have a job to do. One of the best ways for them to do this job is to have drivers perform field sobriety tests. This allows them to gauge whether you’re driving while under the influence or just nervous.
Here, we’ll discuss the three most used field sobriety tests (FST) in Clemson, South Carolina. We’ll also explain whether the results of these tests can be challenged in court.
What Is the Point of Field Sobriety Tests?
One of the most frequently used tools by police when they pull someone over for suspicion of DUI is field sobriety tests. These field sobriety tests are designed to see if a driver is able to respond to certain commands. They also test the driver’s ability to concentrate, maintain their balance, and use their fine motor skills.
If a person is under the influence of alcohol, they will not be able to perform the standard field sobriety tests. Within seconds of beginning the test, the officers will have an idea of how well the driver will perform. However, they will typically attempt all three of the popular tests and give the driver the benefit of the doubt.
Three main types of standard field sobriety tests are used in South Carolina. These are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-legged stand test. We’ll talk about each of these in detail here.
Many Officers in South Carolina Use the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
Most people can’t even pronounce the name of this test let alone understand what it is. The horizontal gaze nystagmus involves the police officer asking you to trace an object with your eyes. They’ll usually use a pen or a tiny flashlight.
The officer will instruct the driver to keep their head straight and follow the object with their eyes only. They’ll move the object from left to right. What they’re looking for is two things. First, they want to see if you move your head involuntarily (or voluntarily). Either way, this shows that you either can’t follow the object with your eyes or you aren’t able to follow directions.
The other thing the officer is looking for is to see if your eyes jerk back and forth. This is a natural reaction to following a stimulus. However, when a person is under the influence of alcohol, their jerking motion is much more pronounced. If they notice a driver doing this, they’ll likely arrest them for DUI.
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina Often Have Clients Who Fail the Walk-and-Turn Test
One of the most common field sobriety tests is also one you’ve probably seen on television or in the movies. Here, the officer will ask the driver to walk from one end of an imaginary line to the other. They’re instructed to walk heel-to-toe. They are also asked to count the steps out while they make nine total heel-to-toe steps. When they get to the end of the line, they are asked to pivot and turn on one foot and then begin the walk back. They’re expected to walk the return trip heel-to-toe as well.
The officer isn’t just concerned with whether the driver can walk a straight line. They’re also looking to see if the driver can follow instructions. Did you lift your arms from your side while walking? Were you unable to count while taking the heel-to-toe steps? If so, the officer will presume you can’t follow instructions due to your being under the influence of alcohol.
Common Field Sobriety Tests Include the One-Legged Stand
This third test may be the hardest of all. Even people who haven’t had a drop of alcohol may have trouble performing these field sobriety tests. The officer will instruct you to stand with your feet together and your arms at your side. They’ll tell you to look straight ahead while lifting one foot about six inches off the ground.
While standing on one leg, you’ll be asked to count. The cop will purposely not tell you what number to count to. They usually will stop the count when the driver reaches thirty. However, it is very hard for anyone to stand on one foot for thirty seconds without lifting their arms or losing balance.
While this test may seem unfair, it is legal and is said to be 83% accurate in gauging a person’s blood alcohol levels.
Call and Speak With One of Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina
If you were recently pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, you probably underwent field sobriety tests. You may have some concerns about how it was administered. Or you may think you performed fine on the test and that the officers exaggerated things to justify an arrest. If this is the case, then ourcriminal defense lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina may be able to help.
What we’ll do is have you come in for an initial consultation. Make sure to bring any evidence you have related to the arrest. If you just have your version of what happened, this will give you a chance to tell your story. The goal is for your DUI defense lawyer in Clemson to determine if you have a case. If the evidence makes it appear that the test was unfair, we can always challenge the results. We can even ask that the charges be dismissed for an unlawful arrest.
The best thing for you to do now is to call and speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina. Once we meet, we’ll discuss the best options for your defense.