A DUI arrest usually starts like any other traffic stop. Many people arrested for DUI are initially pulled over for other traffic offenses, such as speeding, driving too slowly, improper lane changes, or crossing the center lane. After you are pulled over the police officer will approach your car and ask for your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. He may ask you where you are going and where you have been. From the start of your conversation, he will be looking for clues that you are too intoxicated to drive, including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, nervousness, inability to find your registration and insurance information, and the smell of alcohol. If he suspects you have been drinking and driving, he no doubt will ask you if you have been drinking, how much you have had to drink, and other questions to gauge your possible level of intoxication. At this point he will also ask you to get out of your vehicle.
If the officer suspects you have been drinking and driving, he will use his observations of you and your answers to his questions as evidence in your arrest and charge for driving under the influence (DUI). To prosecute a charge of DUI, he must video and audio record his interaction with you from the activation of his blue lights through the reading of your miranda rights, which is usually the last step in a DUI arrest. Therefore, it is extremely important to remember that you will be video and audio recorded through the entire traffic stop and DUI investigation.
If at this point the officer suspects you have been drinking and are too intoxicated to drive, he will ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs). Again, you must assume you are being video and audio recorded through the entire testing process, and the recording can be used against you by the prosecution in your DUI case. Field Sobriety tests are used to examine whether your mental and physical abilities are impaired by alcohol to the point that you cannot drive. Officers use many different FSTs to test for DUI, but the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put forth three tests that "reliably" test for an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC). These are the Gaze Nystagmus (eye test), One-Leg Stand, and Walk-and-Turn Tests. Since these are the most common tests used by law enforcement officers in DUI detection they will be the focus of our discussion.
In the remaining installments on this topic we will break down what will be expected of you in each of these tests, what the officers look for while administering these field sobriety tests, and whether you should take these tests or even speak to the police officer at all.
The Charleston, South Carolina DUI Attorneys at Anderson & Schuster, LLC represent people charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). If you have been charged with DUI please give us a call today to discuss your case and what a DUI lawyer can do for you. We help those charged with DUI in Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Hanahan, Goose Creek, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Daniel Island, Summerville and Moncks Corner.