Field Sobriety Tests in South Carolina

If you have been stopped by law enforcement, you may be asked to submit to field sobriety tests, also known as FSTs. FSTs help law enforcement officers determine whether there is suspicion that you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some of these tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, or HGN test, a walk and turn, and a standing on one leg test. One test alone cannot accurately indicate whether you are under the influence, and thus ordinarily, a sequence of these three tests will be administered. These three tests are standardized and endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, and are designed to measure a specific reaction or reflex that is believed to be compromised if you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs. The tests allow law enforcement officers to observe your balance, physical abilities, attention, and other factors that may indicate you are under the influence.

For example, the HGN test measures the involuntary jerking of your eye, which supposedly can be exacerbated if you are intoxicated. The walk and turn, and standing on one leg tests are designed to measure both your coordination and ability to follow directions that may also be impaired if you are intoxicated.

In addition to these standard FSTs, an officer may also ask you to blow into a hand-held breathalyzer to determine your preliminary blood alcohol content. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI that was initially based on how you performed the FSTs, the attorneys at Harwell Law Firm suggest that you consult with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to help preserve any evidence that may be beneficial to beating a DUI charge stemming from the FSTs you performed.

It is important to note that if you have been stopped by law enforcement, and the officer requests that you submit to FSTs, including the initial hand-held breathalyzer, you do have the right to refuse these tests. However, if the officer determines that there is enough probable cause or suspicion to arrest you for DUI, you can still be arrested even if you refuse to submit to the FSTs.

If you do submit to FSTs and you fail one or more of them, an officer may determine that they have probable cause to arrest you for DUI. However, FSTs are not one hundred percent accurate, and they are unreliable indicators of whether you are actually intoxicated. Moreover, know that law enforcement officers ordinarily have to undergo extensive training to make sure they properly administer FSTs. If the officer failed to follow standard protocol when administering the FSTs, the validity of those tests may be compromised. Accordingly, even if you have been arrested and charged with DUI as a result of your FST performance, it is possible to fight your charge by challenging the reliability or validity of the FSTs based on the circumstances in your case. The attorneys at Harwell Law Firm, P.A., can review the facts and evidence in your case and advise you of your rights and responsibilities so that you can make an informed decision as to how to best proceed in your case.