A common thing we hear from clients is that they think they either passed,
or failed the field sobriety tests. Problem is, for most it is impossible
for them to know one way or the other.
Police officers in South Carolina are trained to use the standardized field
sobriety battery pursuant to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The standardized battery includes:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (one where a police officer looks into your eyes)
- Walk and Turn
- One Leg Stand
The officers have been trained to perform the tests in a very particular
way. The way the officer provides instructions, administers the test,
and grades the test, are all specified by the official guidelines.
The reason that most people can’t know whether or not they passed
is based on two important reasons. First, unless you have specific training
in training pursuant to the NHTSA standards you can’t know if the
officer’s gave the test properly. Second, unless you are able to
actually observe yourself from the third-person perspective you won’t
be able to tell exactly how you performed.
For example, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test looks for nystagmus or
involuntary eye movements (small jerks). These don’t affect vision
and are imperceptible to the individual. The test doesn’t measure
your ability to keep your head still or to follow the object with your
eye. You can’t know if you are showing nystagmus unless you can
see your eyes from the officer’s perspective.
Even though it may be impossible for someone on the side of the road to
know if they are passing or failing the tests, it is certainly possible
to later verify whether or not the tests were properly administered and
to verify the officer’s grading of the test.
When we are hired to represent a defendant in a DUI charge one of the first
steps is to obtain the video recording of the field sobriety test, the
officer’s narrative notes, and the grading sheet from the field
sobriety tests through the court’s discovery process.
Once we get these materials they will be reviewed by at least two attorneys
in our office. This includes James R. Snell, Jr., who personally reviews
all circumstances of our client’s arrest from the activation of
the officer’s blue lights through the conclusion of any breath testing
procedure at the jail. Our lawyers are members of the National College
of DUI Defense, have received specific continuing education in the field
of DUI defense, and have also completed a training program in DUI Detection
and Field Sobriety Testing pursuant to the NHTSA curriculum.
The results of our review of field sobriety tests can determine if there
are circumstances present to challenge the results sufficient to have
them suppressed or to argue that they are discredited. If our client wants
to have their case resolved outside of the courtroom, a thorough review
may also assist in have a charge reduced (for example to reckless driving).
Contact the firm today for the assistance you need.