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Columbia Field Sobriety Test

KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C. > Columbia Field Sobriety Test

Should You Take Or Opt Out Of A Field Sobriety Test In South Carolina?

If a police officer suspects you are intoxicated while driving, he may stop your car. After asking you for your license and registration, he may request you to take some tests. Roadside tests for suspected DUI drivers can be one of two types. These are the breathalyzer test and the field sobriety test.

SC law requires you to consent to the breathalyzer test. You also have the right to refuse it if you choose to. But refusing a breathalyzer test is problematic: it usually leads to license suspension. The field sobriety test is optional. You are not under any obligation to take them. That holds true no matter what the police officer says. There is no law that requires you to take a field sobriety test in South Carolina.

In some cases, an officer may tell you they’ll arrest you if you refuse the test. This is partly true, because if you refuse you will be arrested. However, this is not because you have broken the law by refusing. The arrest is so that the police can take a urine or blood sample. They will use this sample to determine your BAC (blood alcohol content). Regardless, having DUI lawyers guide you through the process is essential.

What Are The Standard Field Sobriety Tests In Columbia, SC?

The standardized field sobriety test has three parts, done consecutively. The accuracy of these tests is not guaranteed. In fact they are considered to be quite challenging even for a sober person. For this reason, there is no good that can come out of taking the tests.

For accuracy, the tests need to be administered in the correct order by a qualified police officer. The process also needs to be video-recorded for it to be admissible in court. The three standard field sobriety tests include:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • The straight walk and turn
  • The one leg stand

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

This is a test that measures the driver’s ability to maintain focused on an object. There cannot be any eye-jerking or bouncing. The office will hold a pen or something similar about 12 inches for your nose. They will slowly sway the object from left to right. The driver is required to follow it using only their eyes. No head movements are allowed. If the driver is intoxicated, they won’t be able to track the movement smoothly.

During the test, the police officer will be watching to see whether there is any nystagmus (jerking of the eyes). Jerking can be noticed in people with .10% BAC and above. The accuracy of this test is still questionable, so it is inadmissible in a South Carolina court on its own.

The Walk and Turn Test

This test measures the ability of the driver to move in a straight line.  They’re required to step from the heel to toe, with hands at their sides. The driver should make nine steps walking from heel to toe in a straight line, one leg at a time. Once the steps are done, they must turn in the direction they came and walk back.

In this test the police officer will be checking:

  • Whether the driver can walk in a straight line as required
  • Whether the driver made the requested number of steps before turning
  • If the driver can turn correctly without falling over
  • If the driver can maintain their balance without using their hands for help

According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), 68% of people with one or two mistakes will have elevated BAC.

The One Leg Stand

This is one of the best tests to measure the ability of the driver to multi-task. The driver will stand one leg, with the other at least six inches off the ground. Their hands should be on each side and not move during the test. They will also be requested to count by consecutive thousands.

The police officer will be checking that:

  • The motorist can remain balanced without the use of their hands
  • They can maintain the count till they are told to stop
  • Numbers are not confused when counting
  • They don’t put the foot down or try to balance it with the other one

For the results of the test to be admissible in court, the driver must fail several parts. An analysis of the results will determine whether the driver was under the influence. Even so, the analysis may not always be accurate. Avoid providing the state with more potential reasons to penalize you. Call a DUI attorney as soon as possible to avoid legal blunders after your arrest.

Other Non-Standardized Tests

These additional tests will not hold up in court, but may be used to support the standardized roadside tests.

  • Finger to the nose: In this test, the driver must stand straight with their legs together and closed eyes. They will then have to touch their nose using their index finger. If they lose their balance or can’t reach their nose correctly, that’s a sign of being intoxicated.
  • Reverse number testing: The driver will be asked to say some numbers in their reverse order.

Why You Shouldn’t Take the Field Sobriety Test

It is tempting to take the field sobriety tests if you do not believe you are intoxicated. This may seem like a simple way to prove your point and resolve the issue. However, taking the field sobriety tests is a wrong move. You shouldn’t take them for the following reasons:

  • If you have had a couple of drinks, it will be close to impossible to pass. The field sobriety test is challenging enough to do for many people even when sober. This means that if you have had a couple of drinks, it will be very hard to pass. As a result, it is better to cut your losses and decline. The police will arrest you, but they won’t have more evidence to use against you.
  • Evidence gathered will be used against you in court. Field sobriety tests are recorded. If you fail, every mistake you make will be analyzed by a police officer. They will use it to show how intoxicated you were. This complicates your case and may lead to heavier punishment.

Declining a Field Sobriety Test May be Your Best Choice

No evidence means the state will have no case. If all they have is a high BAC from a breathalyzer, your DUI attorney can easily challenge this. But if you subject yourself to the field sobriety test, you give the state more evidence. This will make it harder for your DUI lawyers to get your charges dropped. It is better to avoid the tests altogether.

You are not required to take field sobriety tests in Columbia, SC. When you are asked to take this kind of examination, it is not an order. Under South Carolina law, you are under no obligation to take the test. It is better to save yourself the risk and politely decline. You will still be arrested, but at least there will be less evidence of your intoxication.

Errors by the police officer can lead you to fail. Sometimes you may not have driven under the influence but still end up failing the test. This is a common occurrence. There may be mistakes made by the administering officer that can dramatically affect your results. Since the tests are only about 77% accurate, it’s better to avoid them.

Physical attributes may cause you to fail. Things such as weight, age, or past injury may all lead to you failing the test. This can happen even when you are perfectly sober. This is why it is better not to risk your chances. Decline to take the sobriety field tests, and call your DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Our DUI Lawyers at Kendrick and Leonard When Arrested For DUI

Whether or not you accepted the field sobriety test, you’ll need superb lawyers to guide you. Kendrick and Leonard DUI attorneys at law have the necessary experience to help you deal with any DUI case. The combined expertise of their team will give you confidence and help you move forward.

When you call us, give complete details of what happened, which tests you took and your results. Having this information will allow us to analyze your case and develop with a game plan for your case. The right team on your side will make all the difference.

Once you’ve hired us, we will be with you at every step of the case till the verdict is out. We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns. Our job is to win you the best outcome possible. You can rest assured that you will get precisely that. Contact us today!

KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C.
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