map Serving Conway, Myrtle Beach, and Marion, South Carolina

Schedule A Consultation 843-488-4321

Conway Criminal Law Blog

What should you know about field sobriety tests and DUI arrests?

Some people in South Carolina may consider drunk driving arrests to be “minor.” That is far from the truth. Even first-time offenders with a drunk driving conviction can face serious repercussions, such as a year or more of probation supervision, a driver’s license suspension and even, perhaps, some time in the local jail. These potential penalties, among others, are the main reason some people decide that it is better to challenge the evidence and take the case all the way to a trial. So, what is some of the key evidence in DUI cases in South Carolina? The results of field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety test overview

There are three widely-used field sobriety tests: the one-leg stand test; the walk-and-turn test; and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test – perhaps better known as the “watch the tip of my pen while I move it back and forth” test. In the one-leg stand test, which is fairly self-explanatory, the suspect is asked to lift one leg and stand still for a certain amount of time. In the walk-and-turn test, the suspect is asked to walk a certain amount of steps in a straight line, and then return back on the same line. In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, as mentioned above, the suspect is asked to follow the tip of a pen that is moved back and forth in front of the suspect’s eyes.

While these three tests may seem simple enough to complete, the fact is that law enforcement officials who conduct these tests are watching carefully for signs of intoxication. In the one-leg test and walk-and-turn test, the officer is usually watching for a suspect’s ability to comprehend and follow instructions to complete these tasks that, typically, require divided attention. In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer is looking for involuntarily “jerking” in the eyes as they move back and forth, which can occur when a person is intoxicated.

If you plan to challenge your drunk driving case, analyzing how these field sobriety tests were conducted is probably crucial. At our law firm, we do our best to help our clients analyze all of the evidence in their drunk driving cases. For more information, please visit the drunk driving overview section of our law firm’s website.