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Greenville Field Sobriety Test

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

Field Sobriety Test in Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville police officers often pull drivers over in traffic. They ask the latter to take the breathalyzer and the field sobriety test. They can do so at checkpoints or if they have reasons to suspect that a driver is intoxicated. If it happens to you, it helps to know what to expect.

Knowing your rights, duties, and options will help you make the best decision for your case. If possible, it always helps to consult a DUI attorney. The latter will offer personalized advice, taking into account the case specifics. Until you get to talk to one, the following general information may help.


Accept or Refuse the Field Sobriety Test?

When they stop you in traffic, the Greenville police officers will check your registration and license. They will then ask you to step out of the vehicle and take some test. They usually apply the breathalyzer test first, and the field sobriety test afterwards.

Refusing the former is a tough choice. South Carolina laws request that you accept it, based on the implied consent rule. A refusal will bring about a license suspension of 6 months if it is your first offense. The suspension period reaches 9 months on the second offense, 12 on the third, and 15 on the fourth.

Things are completely different when it comes to the field sobriety test. It is optional, so refusing it will not lead to penalties. However, if you refuse it, the police officers will most likely arrest you. They will ask you to take a blood test so they can determine your blood alcohol concentration.

Blood and urine tests fall under the implied consent rule as well. You should not refuse them without consulting a DUI attorney. It is safe, even helpful to refuse a field sobriety test because these tests are not accurate. They often give false positive results.

The best way to decide whether to take such a test or not is to find out what it entails. Keep in mind that many DUI lawyers in Greenville advise their clients to refuse the test at all times. They do so because drivers may fail it without drinking, or they may appear more intoxicated than they are.


Brief Overview of the Field Sobriety Test in Greenville

Field sobriety tests are difficult to pass even for sober persons. Moreover, their results depend on the interpretation of the police officer overseeing it. If the latter is already convinced a driver is drunk, they may see signs of intoxication where there are none.

It is important for the police officer to administer the tests in the right order. Changing the order could lead to false positive results. They should also record the test. Otherwise, the results will not be admissible in court.  

In Greenville, a field sobriety test consists of three parts, detailed below.

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The test aims to measure a driver’s ability to focus and remain focused on a moving object. The police officer will hold a pen or a similar object at a distance of 12 inches from the driver’s nose. They will move the object horizontally, from the left to the right. They will request the driver to follow the object with their gaze without turning their head.

The police officer will monitor the driver’s ability to follow through. They will look for eye-jerking (nystagmus) and bounce. These reactions usually signal a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or above. However, the results are not always accurate. South Carolina courts do not accept the field sobriety test alone as evidence.

  1. Walk and Turn

The police officer requests the driver to walk a straight line. They have to step from heel to toe, keeping their hands inert on the sides. The driver has to take 9 steps, turn at 180 degrees, and walk back to their initial position. The test aims to assess:

  • The driver’s ability to walk a straight line
  • Their ability to count steps and follow instructions
  • Their ability to turn and maintain their balance without falling or lifting their hands

The more mistakes a driver makes during this step, the higher their blood alcohol concentration should be. Usually, one or two mistakes are enough to suggest an elevated blood alcohol concentration. However, many people lose their balance due to fatigue or various health conditions. That is why many DUI lawyers recommend their clients to refuse the field sobriety test.

  1. Standing on One Leg

The driver has to stand on one leg and keep their other leg raised at minimum 6 inches above the ground. They should keep their hands on the sides without moving them. The police officers will also ask them to count by thousands. The test aims to assess the driver’s ability to:

  • Perform several tasks at the same time
  • Keep their balance without using their hands or leaning on the other foot
  • Count without stopping or making mistakes.

As with the walk and turn test, false positive results are frequent. Overweight drivers, those with a poor physical condition or suffering from various illnesses will fail. For them, an experienced DUI attorney will always recommend refusing the test.


Other Field Sobriety Tests Greenville Police Officers May Use

Although only the above tests are admissible in court, the police officers may request two more. One of them is the finger to nose test. The driver is to stand straight, keeping their legs together and closing their eyes. They should place their index finger on the tip of their nose. Loss of balance or failing to touch the nose qualifies as a sign of intoxication.

The second test involves reverse counting. The police officer will ask the driver to count backwards from a specific number. If the latter fails, their failure will qualify as a sign of intoxication. Police officers usually turn to these tests when the results of the standardized tests are inconclusive.


Why Greenville DUI Lawyers Recommend Refusing the Field Sobriety Test

As mentioned above, this test is optional. Drivers who refuse it have nothing to lose. On the other hand, if they take it and fail, their case will be much more difficult. Before you accept or refuse the test, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Have you been drinking?
  • Do you have any health conditions or headaches that could cause you to fail?
  • Are you taking any medication that may affect your balance and focus?
  • Do you have sight problems?
  • Do you find it difficult to keep your balance?

If your answer to any of the above questions is positive, chances are you will fail the test. If your answer is negative, you may be able to pass. Before you accept, keep in mind the following aspects:

  • The test often gives false positive results
  • Its recording is admissible in court and will count as evidence against you
  • Refusing the test will not impact your case
  • Failing the test may lead to a conviction and corresponding penalties
  • If you don’t take the test, your DUI attorney will have less evidence to challenge

Of course, the best strategy is to take a minute and call a Greenville DUI lawyer. The time window for administering the field sobriety test is of two hours. Those two minutes may not count much for this time frame. However, they could make a difference in your case.


DUI Lawyers’ Advice for Drivers Requested to Take the Field Sobriety Test in Greenville, SC

If the police stop you in traffic and you know you have been drinking, never panic. You will only give away your condition and make mistakes. Talk as little as possible, and find a way to call a DUI attorney. The latter will advise you on the steps to take.

If you are unsure of your ability to pass the field sobriety test, refuse it. If you only had one beer, refusing the breathalyzer test may not be a good idea. Even if it shows a BAC of 0.08%, an experienced DUI attorney will find ways to challenge it. If you exaggerated with your drinks, it may be a good idea to refuse all tests. Just try to confirm your strategy with a DUI attorney first.

Call one as soon as possible, explain your case, and follow their advice. They will guide you through the hassles and find a way to help you. Playing brave and trying to solve everything on your own could be costly. Without a driving license, jobs are difficult to find and keep. Kids are difficult to raise, and your social life suffers.


Schedule a Consultation with a Kendrick & Leonard DUI Attorney in Greenville Now!

Did the police ask you to take the field sobriety test and you don’t know what to do? Did you take the test and fail? You are probably worried and upset, unsure of the steps to take from now on. Let us help! Call Kendrick & Leonard now at 803.667.3186 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation! Our Greenville DUI attorney will review your case and provide all the advice and information you need.

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