Field sobriety tests are administered by law enforcement officers to help them determine just how intoxicated a driver is. They are often used along with a breathalyzer test that measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath. Although field sobriety tests are used in all 50 states, this doesn’t mean that they are always accurate. Police officers may arrest drivers for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they aren’t actually intoxicated.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)
When a police officer asks someone to take this test, they are studying how the driver’s eyes move. When someone looks high and to the side, their eyes will exhibit a jerking motion that is involuntary. However, if the driver has consumed alcohol, they may also exhibit this same movement when asked to look to the side and low. A driver who has been drinking will also not likely be able to follow an object smoothly. Instead, their eyes will make jerking motions as they follow the object.
When administering the HGN, the police officer will often have the driver follow a flashlight and ask them to only move their eyes and not their head. However, in addition to being intoxicated, there are other situations that may result in involuntary movement of the eyes. Some congenital conditions result in this, as do some seizure medications.
The Walk and Turn Test
In this test the driver will be asked to take nine steps forward in a heel to toe motion. After taking the steps the driver must turn on one foot then return back to the place they started taking the same heel to toe steps. The officer will watch to see how well the driver can balance during the walk, whether they take the wrong number of steps, how they turn, or whether they use their arms to balance. Any of these may be signs of impairment.
Failing the walk and turn test, however, can be caused by a lot of things. The type of shoes a driver is wearing can make a difference, and physical conditions such as back and leg issues may limit how well a driver can perform the test.
The One-Leg Stand Test
During this test the driver will be asked to stand with their foot six inches from the top of the ground. They will then be required to count up from one thousand. They must count for a period of 30 seconds. The police officer will take note of any balance issues the driver has as well as whether they count correctly.
Just like the walk and turn test, there are physical conditions that can keep a driver from performing this test correctly. People who are older or obese may also struggle with this test.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney Today
If you have failed to pass a field sobriety test and have been charged with a DUI, contact a Charleston DUI attorney at David Aylor Law Offices today to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys will create the best possible defense strategy for your charges and ensure your rights are protected.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.