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Did your beach party end with a horizontal gaze nystagmus test?

South Carolina traffic authorities could design a field sobriety test around the title of one that already exists: horizontal gaze nystagmus. Just trying to spell or pronounce such a thing is a challenge. The problem is that you could be completely sober and stutter or have trouble trying to enunciate or correctly spell those words. On a much more serious note, that's also the problem with many existing field sobriety tests; completely sober people may have trouble performing some of the tasks, which can lead to criminal charges.

Let's say you spend the day or evening along the shores of Myrtle Beach, enjoying time with your friends or family that includes lunch or dinner at a local restaurant that served alcohol. You imbibe in a drink or two, and a police officer happens to pull you over on your way home. If you submit to and fail a field sobriety test, your freedom could be at risk.

Caution! FST results may not be accurate!

You were confident that you could get behind the wheel to drive because you only consumed a minimal amount of alcohol and had a large meal, then spent more time at the beach before getting on the road. That's why you may have been quite shocked when the police officer arrested you on a drunk driving suspicion. The following information regarding FSTs may apply to your situation:

  • There are three main types of FSTs that police officers often use to determine if they have probable cause to make a drunk driving arrest.
  • If you submit to one or more of the tests, the police officer will carefully observe everything you say and do as a means of testing your cognitive and physical skills at the time.
  • There are no administrative or criminal penalties associated with refusal to take an FST, unlike a Breathalyzer wherein your refusal would likely activate an administrative process that could result in an automatic driver's license suspension.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a crucial component of FSTs. A police officer is checking your eye movements to see if there is erratic jerking present when your gaze meets maximum deviation. Typically, you are asked to move only your eyes (not your head) to follow a particular object the officer moves from side to side or up and down.
  • Standing on one leg while counting, and walking a straight line with arms held out at shoulder length while placing the heel of one foot at the toes of the other are two other tests a police officer might use when deciding whether to arrest you for possible DUI.

You could have any number of health conditions (arthritis, vision problems, muscular disability) that impair your ability to perform well on an FST. However, the fact that you did not perform well on an FST is enough for police to arrest you for possible intoxication while driving. Avoiding conviction in such circumstances could pose a tremendous challenge.

How others have succeeded

You would definitely not be the first person to be in such a predicament. Others in the past who believed charges against them were false have been able to protect their rights and preserve their freedom by relying on experienced and aggressive legal representation in court.

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