2 ways to potentially exclude field sobriety tests from court

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Drunk Driving Charges

In a South Carolina driving under the influence (DUI) case, the prosecutor needs every bit of evidence they can get. Especially if the person accused didn’t cause any property damage or harm to others, the state will need to show poor performance at the wheel or a technical infraction based on someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Chemical breath tests are often a cornerstone of the prosecution’s case, as is dash cam footage that may show someone driving poorly or statements made to an officer in the early moments of a traffic stop. Field sobriety tests are often important because they help an officer establish probable cause to request a chemical test. They can also be useful during a criminal trial.

Sometimes, a defense attorney can convince the courts to exclude the results of someone’s field sobriety tests from criminal proceedings. What are some of the more common reasons that your performance on field sobriety tests may not play a role in your prosecution?

1. The officer deviated from best practices

Certain standards apply during DUI traffic stops. For example, officers should ensure that their dashboard and body cameras capture the field sobriety test. When there isn’t video evidence corroborating an officer’s description of someone’s performance, the field sobriety test results may have minimal impact on the court proceedings.

Other times, it could be the use of non-standard field sobriety tests that raises questions about the validity of the test results. For other people, there might be an explanation for their performance on a field sobriety test, such as a medical condition.

2. The traffic stop was illegal

Officers need to have justification for every traffic stop. When an officer indiscriminately pulls someone over or racially profiles someone, their actions may be a violation of that individual’s rights.

If there was no justification for the traffic stop, then any evidence gathered during that traffic stop may not be usable in criminal court. If there are grounds to challenge the validity of the stop itself, the field sobriety test and other evidence may not be admissible.

Learning more about the evidence that comprises the case against you can help you fight back against pending DUI charges by raising questions about your field sobriety test results.

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