Field sobriety tests (FTSs) are sets of three tests used by police to discern whether a driver is intoxicated. The tasks evaluate balance, coordination, and proficiency to divide attention to more than one task during the field sobriety test.
The tests have been scientifically proven to validate legal intoxication in drivers doubted of drunken driving if administered by a trained officer. The results of the test are acceptable as evidence during a trial. Therefore, you must hire the best DUI lawyer in Spartanburg, South Carolina from the Bateman Law Firm to make sure that you can use any error/mistake on part of the arresting officer in administering these FSTs to your advantage.
Let a criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina from our firm handle your DUI charges to make sure that your rights are respected throughout!
What Does It Mean To Be Drunk?
When you consume alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and influences your body and mind rapidly. Drinking excess alcohol can cause people to become drunk and describes the effects of alcohol, such as:
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Impaired reflexes
- Slurred speech
- Vision changes
Drinking more alcohol can worsen these effects and can lead to severe road accidents in case of drunk driving.
Technically, a person is considered “under the influence” when their blood alcohol concentration stands at (or exceeds) .08%.
Types Of Field Sobriety Tests
There are two widely used types of tests:
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Standardized field sobriety tests are a variety of diverged attention tasks designed to inspect if a person is intoxicated by alcohol. They are not 100% precise and are relatively subjective. There are three standardized field sobriety tests:
#1) Walk & Turn Test
A typically used field sobriety test is the walk-and-turn test. It measures the ability of a suspect to pursue instructions, continuously maintain balance, and walk in a straight line for an extensive duration.
This test compels the suspect to take heel-to-toe steps while walking in a straight line. The suspect’s arms should be at their sides throughout the test. An officer will look for a lack of balance, an inability to follow directions, and other signs of impairment.
#2) One-Leg Turn Test
During this field sobriety test, an officer will advise the suspect to stand with one foot roughly six inches off the ground while counting out loud, beginning with one thousand until they are allowed to put their foot down.
During this test, an officer will generally time the suspect for roughly 30 seconds. The officer supervising this test will look for indications of impairment, like quivering while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down before being advised.
#3) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
The HGN test will test the subject’s eyes. “Nystagmus” is a term used to characterize any bouncing or twitching of the eye.
In many cases, people who exhibit indications of nystagmus aren’t familiar with their condition. It has no impact on vision, which makes it almost impossible to realize the horizontal movement of the eyes inconsistently.
Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Some tests are very unreliable for determining if someone is intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not even acknowledge them as proper tests for sobriety.
But, the officers can use them as a Pre-Exit interview procedure. It implies these so-called tests are employed when the driver is still in the car to see if there is enough evidence to ask the driver to get out and formally be sobriety tested.
The Truth about Field Sobriety Tests In Spartanburg, South Carolina
FSTs are voluntary; no officer can compel you to perform any of them, even the preliminary alcohol screening. If you’re pulled over by a cop, there is no benefit to performing FSTs. As these tests don’t deduce if you pass or fail. FSTs are tools used by cops to collect and document certain pieces of evidence that can be used to testify in court.
Highway Patrol officers see every dealing with a driver as a potential DUI investigation. Even from the first interaction, they start looking for intoxication indications. If they find signs like smelling alcohol, notice red eyes, or slurring speech, they’ll instruct you to exit the vehicle, an order you cannot legally refuse.
However, if they ask you to perform FSTs, the officer must clarify the option as voluntary. They might use coercive speech or infer you should conduct FSTs, but they must make it apparent that you have the right to decline.
What to Expect If You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test
The correct response under these circumstances is to politely tell the officer that you won’t perform any field sobriety tests. Try to be direct and respectful. But keep in mind that under the law, an officer can still place you under arrest and force you to take a chemical test.
You may find it unfair that you are being arrested without reasonable evidence, but it’s not the best time to argue. Feel reassured that you committed your legal best to help your case and live to fight another day.
In reality, it’s not very tough for an average person, or a cop, to precisely deduce if someone has had too much to drink, and with a little bit of training on what a .08% BAC is, it’s not hard to judge when someone is above or below that number.
Like doctors need to articulate symptoms before deciding what someone’s underlying situation is, FSTs document specific symptoms of intoxication.
Officers know how to convince people to take FSTs by making it appear as if the tests will be over fast and that they can prove your innocence. They sometimes use some persuasive strategies to get you to take more tests. By implying that you’ve passed a fraction of the FSTs, they are trying to get you comfortable doing more, so that they can ascertain more ways to gather more clues.
Can You Refuse A Field Sobriety Test In Spartanburg, South Carolina?
Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and fulfillment of tests is not mandatory under the law. If asked to conduct a field sobriety test, a driver can politely refuse to do so or can ask to speak with their attorney. While the driver will not withstand legal liabilities for refusing to participate.
It is essential to comprehend that this does not suggest that the officer will let it go. In most cases, if a driver denies a field sobriety test, they will be asked to undertake a chemical test to deduce their blood alcohol level, like a breathalyzer test or a blood test.
The driver can also be taken to the police station for some time while these tests are performed. Unlike field sobriety tests, declining a breathalyzer test or providing a blood sample can have considerable consequences.
Let A Criminal Defense Attorney In Spartanburg, South Carolina Help You
Chemical tests, like breath, blood, or urine, serve as the most significant piece of evidence in any DUI case. As there is no way to “pass” an FST, there is little benefit to conducting them, and if you are even mildly intoxicated, you may perform poorly in the tests.
Field sobriety tests can be nullified with competent cross-examination that uncovers that the science validating them is weak. It implies that the cop did not conduct the FSTs precisely as per NHTSA guidelines.
If you’ve been charged with DUI, then a criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina can use factors like the unreliability of FSTs in your favor. DUI attorneys at Bateman Law Firm are eager to help with your case.
Call us and book your time with the best DUI lawyer in Spartanburg, South Carolina today for a consultation!