While everyone knows that you shouldn't drink and drive, it happens every single day in upstate South Carolina. Greenville County averages around 320 DUI arrests each year, which is almost one DUI arrest a day in the county alone. If you make the mistake of drinking and driving, whether you are a first-time offender or you have multiple offenses, the consequences can be severe. From jail time to having an ignition interlock device installed, to the fines and fees associated with a DUI arrest, to having a restricted license or applying for a temporary license, the entire system is easy to get lost in.
With the dedicated criminal defense attorneys in Greenville at TF Law on your side, we'll be able to walk you through every step and process, one by one, to help you regain control of your future, your driving record, and your ability to get behind the wheel.
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
There are two different forms of field sobriety tests in Greenville:
- Breath Alcohol Tests (breathalyzer tests) and
- Physical tests
The standardized field sobriety test can include but is not limited to, the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze test.
While most people are familiar with breathalyzer testing, the aforementioned tests are a little more complicated and nuanced for those not familiar with them. In the walk-and-turn test, drivers are required to walk along a straight line, turn 180 degrees, and walk back along the same line. This must be completed without stumbling, tripping, or leaving the line. You must also wait for the instructions to be finished before proceeding with the test, as well as keep your feet heel-to-toe for the duration of the test, and move continuously without stopping to regain footing.
For the one-leg stand test in South Carolina, drivers must stand on one leg, with the other foot 6-inches above the ground, without swaying, using their arms for balance, or falling. You will be required to count during a 30-second interval until the test is complete.
The last test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. When eyes are forced to face to extreme angles, jerking occurs in the eyes. This jerking and twitching is more pronounced when one is under the influence of alcohol. Police officers administering these tests will look for over-exaggerated jerking while having their eyes follow a pen or light from side to side.
Can I Refuse Field-Sobriety Testing?
The state of South Carolina does allow those suspected of driving under the influence to refuse field sobriety testing. However, under South Carolina's implied consent laws, you will automatically and immediately lose your driving privileges and your license will be suspended. After your arrest for suspected driving under the influence, you will be required to submit to chemical blood-alcohol testing after you arrive at the police station.
Should I Refuse Field Testing?
There are several good reasons to refuse field sobriety testing.
For example, even the most up-to-date Breathalyzer tests have, at the very least, a .001% testing error. This means that if you test only .01% above the legal limit, or exactly on the legal limit, you may not actually be above the legal limit, the test could just be inaccurate. There is also a 15-20 minute waiting period during which a person may still have alcohol present in their mouth that can show up on a breathalyzer. There is also a margin of error within the handling of the test. Improper handling techniques and cleaning by law enforcement officers can lead breathalyzer tests to be inaccurate around 50% of the time when compared to blood samples.
The physical field tests are better, but not by much, when it comes to accuracy. When compared to blood alcohol results, HGN tests are normally accurate about 77% of the time, the walk-and-turn is accurate about 68% of the time, and the one-leg stand test is accurate about 65% of the time. This is a combined accuracy of around 82% if they are all used together. That means there is around an 18% chance that you will be charged with a DUI even if you have not been drinking or your blood-alcohol content is not above the legal level.
If you have been drinking, and believe yourself to be above the legal limit and have been pulled over, you may also wish to refuse field testing to avoid having your breath-alcohol level recorded. It can take several hours for you to be arrested, taken to the police station, and booked before you are required to submit to a blood-alcohol test. This may give your body enough time to dispel as much alcohol from your blood as possible, making it reasonable to believe you may be able to pass your blood alcohol test, or at least test lower than you would have so that you receive lesser sentencing.
Learn More: What Should You do After a DUI Arrest?
Contact the DUI Lawyers at TF Law
No matter the circumstances of your DUI arrest and charges, we're here to help. As dedicated criminal defense & DUI attorneys, TF Law will do everything they can to help. Whether you're just looking for legal advice, a game plan to fight your charges, and you've just been arrested and need representation now, we're ready to help you every step of the way.
As DUI lawyers, we have experience in every step of the DUI process, from field sobriety testing and arrests, to a jury trial and sentencing. We'll help you put together the best possible defense for your charges, and do everything we can to have you sentencing lowered, or your charges dropped. Call 864-618-2323 to schedule a free consultation for your case.