One Leg Stand Field Sobriety Test

one leg sobriety testWhen officers ask stopped drivers who are under suspicion of DUI to perform a field sobriety test like that of the “one leg stand,” it’s not to make them look ridiculous. Our normal abilities have a high resistance to alcohol since they’re motions and actions we have learned almost instinctively. Field testing for impairment must differentiate these well-learned activities and push our senses to the maximum to check for illegal BAC levels. 

While field sobriety testing helps officers make quicker judgments on the drunken condition of a stopped driver, it isn’t always reliable as the participant’s regular ability to stand could already have a pre-existing health condition interfering. 

How Police Issue the One Leg Stand Test

The second most common test a police officer will ask a suspect to perform is the one leg stand test. Execution of this activity is straightforward and only requires the officer to have the suspect raise his leg and keep it up for thirty seconds. This may sound like a simple exercise, but in reality, it is not. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Manual, the police officer should initiate the test by giving the following visual demonstration along with clear, verbal instructions:

  • Show the suspect how to stand with feet together and arms down at the sides
  • Tell the suspect to not start to perform the test until told to do so
  • Ask if the suspect understands the instructions at that point

The following verbal instructions accompany those demonstrations:

  • “When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, approximately six inches off the ground, foot pointed out”
  • “You must keep both legs straight, arms at your side”
  • “While holding that position, count out loud in the following manner: One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop”
  • “Keep your arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot”
  • “Do you understand the instructions?”
  • “Go ahead and perform the test”

When the driver performs the one leg stand, the police officer should time it for thirty seconds. If the suspect puts the foot down, the patrolman should give instructions to pick the foot up again and continue counting from the point at which the foot touched the ground. If the suspect counts, terminate the test after thirty seconds.

Evidence Looked for During the One Leg Stand Test

The police officer should conduct the test on a level, dry and non-slippery surface. A suspect’s age of 65 years or older, weight of 50 pounds or more overweight, and if the individual has a leg, back, and/or middle ear problem, need consideration since these factors make the performance of the test more difficult.

As the suspect completes this sobriety field test, the NHTSA trained officer will look for the following evidence of impairment:

  • The suspect sways while balancing
  • The suspect uses arms for balance, more particularly the suspect moves his arm 6 or more inches from the side of the body to keep balance
  • Hopping
  • The suspect puts his foot down one or more times during the thirty-second count

If the policeman witnesses two or more of these reactions, he may determine the likelihood that the defendant is under the influence of alcohol.

Possible DUI Sobriety Test Defenses

Even if you failed your one-leg stand test during your DUI stop, you may still have a viable defense against the officer’s findings of impairment. Your attorney will consider these questions when determining how to best defend your case:

  • Was the stop legal to begin with?
  • Did the police legally search your car?
  • Were you informed of your rights?
  • Does the officer have a history of making less than credible stops or findings?
  • Do you have a disability that makes this test difficult to perform?
  • Do you have a medical condition that might make you appear drunk?

DUI offenses come with heavy penalties in Florida as the state takes this type of reckless behavior seriously. This is why it’s imperative that you consult with an attorney before trying to represent yourself or simply accept whatever punishment the court wants to impose. Your future and freedom are at stake, so don’t take any chances and get a lawyer right away.

Hire an Aggressive Orlando DUI Defense Attorney

Hiring an experienced drunk driving lawyer is imperative to point out the flaws, if any, of the police officer’s handling of the instructions and demonstration stage of the one-leg stand test. Furthermore, counsel can provide a defense if the defendant should have any other problems or conditions stated above such as age, medical condition, ear problems, and/or balance problems.

At The Umansky Law Firm, our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience defending people who face DUI charges in Orlando and Central Florida. Our lawyers thoroughly investigate each case to construct solid arguments that protect their clients and achieve desired case results. Our recognized team of Super Lawyers aggressively challenge these types of unreliable field sobriety tests that ruin the lives of thousands every year. Receive a free consultation at any time by contacting us online or calling (407) 228-3838.