Field Sobriety Test: The One Leg Stand

The “one leg stand” test is one of three standardized field sobriety tests implemented and sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The test is designed to measure the body’s response and reflex to certain stimuli that are believed to manifest as a result of consuming alcoholic beverages. Police officers administer this test by having a driver stand on one foot approximately six inches above the ground with their toe pointed forward. Then, the police officer asks the driver to keep their foot off the ground and count by one-thousands for 30 seconds. While doing this, the driver must keep their arms to their side and look down at their foot. The way that this test is administered is innately flawed as many people who are sober are unable to keep proper balance when on one foot. The requested actions that make up the “one leg stand” are counter-intuitive to creating balance. This leads to many improper readings and could trigger an unwarranted DUI, requiring the necessity of a Houston DWI lawyer.

While you are performing the test, the administering police officer will be observing your movements to determine whether your are exhibiting any loss of balance considered to be indicative of impairment. The police officer will also be keeping an eye for specific indicators that are also considered to be indicative of impairment; these movements include but are not limited to:

  • Swaying while attempting to maintain balance
  • Constant hopping while trying to maintain your balance
  • Putting your foot down before the test is completed
  • Using your arms in any way to maintain your balance

The Problem with the One Leg Stand Test

The problem with the indicators used in the one leg stand test, are that they are perfectly normal reflexes when attempting to maintain balance even without the consumption of alcohol. It is this very reason that the test is seen as innately flawed and is designed to make people fail. The test also fails to accommodate for those who are elderly, have back or leg problems, people who are overweight or people who generally have poor balance.

Moreover, there is no way to really “pass” this test. Police officers generally overestimate the level of intoxication for drivers who voluntarily submit to the field sobriety test. Due to the fact that a driver is pulled over and made to prove their sober nature to a police officer, it is a given than the ordinary individual will be extremely nervous. The fact that you don’t know how long the test is going to be is going to cause a driver to be even more nervous. A nervous feeling is usually accompanied by many physical manifestations such as shaking, loss of balance and sweating, all potential red flags to a police officer.

If you or a loved one has been subjected to a field sobriety test and have taken the one leg stand test, or you have any general questions about field sobriety tests, contact Trichter & Murphy today for a free consultation with one of our expert DWI attorneys in Houston, TX.