Field Sobriety Tests

Law enforcement officers in Spartanburg, Greenville and across South Carolina regularly require drivers to perform field sobriety tests in an effort to gain evidence for a drunk driving prosecution. These exercises are generally performed along the roadside — in all types of weather and on varying terrain. While the government claims that these tests are valid in assessing whether a driver is impaired, there are many known problems that may impact the reliability of these tests.

Is The Evidence Against You Valid?

The lawyers at the Schultz Law Firm, LLC, are experienced in assessing the validity of an officer's performance in administering FSTs. South Carolina law requires that these tests be videotaped. The exercises include agility tests, which are essentially designed for regular, hardworking people to fail. The three standardized tests, recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Here an officer passes a pen or other object before a driver's eyes to look for involuntary movement called nystagmus. An officer must be qualified to administer the test. Conducting the test unfairly, such as shining a flashlight in driver's eyes before the test, can adversely impact the validity and reliability of the test. Medical conditions may also influence the test result.
  • The one-leg stand. The idea behind this attention-dividing exam is that an impaired driver will not perform well while trying to balance on one leg without swaying while counting out loud. The test is generally not administered in a fitness center with proper attire on a flat surface.
  • The walk-and-turn test. Here again, this test is a divided attention task that requires properly walking toe-to-heel while counting. The procedure is administered in any weather conditions and on the available terrain.

Drivers in South Carolina have a right to respectfully refuse to perform field sobriety tests — doing so will likely result in a DUI arrest, but a refusal to perform field sobriety tests means that you are not providing the evidence to law enforcement. Our impaired driving defense attorneys vigorously review all of the relevant details surrounding FSTs to protect the rights of our clients.

Contact Us For A Free Initial Consultation

Assuming that field sobriety tests are valid may be a big mistake. Call 864-256-4286 to arrange a free meeting with an experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer or send us a message using our contact form now to get in touch with us.