Field Sobriety Tests: The One Leg Stand Test

What is The One Leg Stand Test?

Field sobriety tests (FST) are used during an OWI traffic stop so that the police officer can collect enough evidence to meet his or her requirement of obtaining enough probable cause to legally take a sample of your blood, breath, or urine. Although there are many different types of field sobriety tests, the courts and scientific research have found that only three have enough support to prove that if two or more clues are seen then there is a high likelihood that the person has a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit. The first test we will go over is the One Leg Stand test.

Stages of The One Leg Stand Test

The One Leg Stand Test is a divided attention test with two stages: the instructions stage, and the balance and counting stage. The timing of the thirty-second period by the officer is an important part of the One Leg Stand Test. Research has shown that many intoxicated individuals are able to stand on one leg for up to twenty-five seconds, but that few can do so for thirty seconds.

During the instructions stage you will be instructed to stand with your feet together, keep your arms at their sides, and listen to instructions. This divides your attention between balancing and listening to and remembering the instructions.

During the balancing and counting stage you will be instructed to raise one leg (either leg), with your foot approximately six inches off the ground, while keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground.  You will then have to count out loud by saying “one thousand and one”, “one thousand and two”, “one thousand and three”, and so on while looking at your elevated foot until you are told to stop. This stage divides your attention between balancing (standing on one foot), and small muscle control (counting out loud).

Signs of Intoxication

During this test the officer looks for four specific clues: sways while balancing, uses arms to balance, hops, or puts foot down. You fail this test when you either put your foot down three or more times during the thirty second period, or when you cannot do the test itself. Research has shown that when two or more clues occur or the person cannot complete the test, it is likely their BAC is above point .10.

Contact us today to set up a free consultation so that we can discuss the field sobriety tests that you were asked to do and whether the officer followed the correct procedure.