On December 2, 2014, WSPA -TV in Spartanburg, South Carolina reported that two South Carolina state senators announced that they would be pre-filing legislation today which would require all state and local police officers to be equipped with body-worn cameras.
In addition to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, MO., there have been several situations in South Carolina where body cameras would have “brought some reassurance to the community that they can believe in the judicial system” according to Charleston Senator Marlon Kimpson. President Obama earlier announced that his proposed spending plan would add body cameras to police departments across the country. Mandatory body cameras would have a direct impact on DUI/drunk driving cases in South Carolina.
Pursuant to DUI/drunk driving investigation protocol – as put forward by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – the first field sobriety test that should be offered in a DUI/drunk driving investigation is the “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test.” According to the NHTSA manual “it is necessary to emphasize that validation of this test only occurs when: The test is administered in the prescribed standardized manner; standardized clues are used to assess the driver’s performance; and standardized criteria are employed to interpret that performance.” Furthermore, the NHTSA manual expressly states that “this field sobriety test is not at all flexible and must be administered every time exactly as outline in the training course.”
To correctly administer the HGN test there are no less than 14 points or checks when the test is administered correctly. For example, the stimulus should be held approximately 12-15 inches above eye level, do the eyes lack smooth pursuit? Was nystagmus detected at maximum deviation?
Additional clues would include the following: 1. Did the driver understand the test? 2. Did the driver keep their head still during the test? 3. Did the driver stand straight and keep his hands by his side at all times? 4. Did the driver sway or rock during the administration of the test? 5. Did the driver stumble or fall while attempting this test? 6. Did the driver follow the directions given by the police officer?
The mandate or requirement of body worn cameras in DUI/drunk driving cases would certainly allow for a more thorough and complete examination of whether or not the proper protocol was followed in the administration of this test.
At the office of Attorney Steve Sumner we relentlessly examine the administration of every field sobriety test if it was used as a basis to arrest and charge our clients with DUI. We support this legislations so that we can do our job better and vigorously and zealously representing our clients in our efforts to defeat these charges.
Greenville, South Carolina DUI Attorney Steve Sumner primarily handles misdemeanor and felony DUI/drunk driving cases. Steve is a former DUI prosecutor and has been in private practice since 1994. Steve has been recognized as a South Carolina Super Lawyer® in the field of DUI defense since 2013. He is a member of the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers™ for criminal defense. He is a member of the National College for DUI Defense and has held a judicially endorsed AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell® and a “Superb” (10.0 out 10.0) ranking with Avvo since 2011.