Alcohol is known to impair both cognitive and physical abilities. To determine if a driver is under the influence during an operating while intoxicated (OWI) traffic stop, an officer may ask him or her to perform a series of field sobriety tests designed to gauge intoxication. If the driver is unable to successfully follow the officer’s instructions and complete the physical task, he or she may be placed under arrest for drunk driving.
If you are asked to perform the one-leg stand test, the officer will first explain the instructions and demonstrate what is expected of you. Once he or she has provided the directions, the officer must then ensure that you understand before directing you to start the test.
To successfully pass the one-leg stand test, you must stand on one leg with the other foot approximately six inches off of the ground with your hands by your side. While standing in this manner, you will be required to count in thousands (i.e., one-one thousand, two-one thousand, etc.) until you reach 30.
While you are concentrating on this test, the officer will watch you for specific “clues” of intoxication. These include putting your foot on the ground before the test is over, swaying, hopping, and using your arms to stay balanced. If the officer sees two or more of these indications of intoxication, he or she may place you under arrest for OWI.
If you’re like many people, balancing on one leg in even the most ideal of situations may be difficult—but this task becomes close to impossible when combined with the anxiety of standing on the shoulder of a road under the watchful eye of an officer who already believes you are under the influence. Your attorney could challenge your results, arguing that the roadside distractions had a negative impact on your ability to perform this test.
There are other reasons why someone would perform poorly on the one-leg stand. Physical limitations, weight, age, and even footwear could make it harder to pass. The test must also be administered correctly on dry, level ground in order for the results to be deemed valid.
At Tracey Wood & Associates, we don’t accept our clients’ field sobriety test results at face value—we dig deeper to find the truth. For advice on fighting your one-leg stand score, please complete our online form now to schedule an analysis of your case.