The One-leg Stand Field Sobriety Test

Just about everyone who has ever been pulled over by the police find themselves nervous. After all, the police wield a significant amount of power. Depending on their account of events of a traffic stop, an individual may wind up facing serious criminal charges, including drunk driving allegations. To support their claims, police offers often ask drivers to submit to field sobriety tests, and a refusal to submit to them may lead to license suspension or license revocation.

Wisconsin residents who submit to field sobriety tests may be concerned about their performance. Yet, these tests must be carried out according to certain standards. Failing to do so could mean that the test's results are inaccurate and therefore inadmissible in a court of law. A few weeks ago we looked at the horizontal gaze test. This week we will briefly assess the one-leg stand test.

The one-leg stand, as its name implies, requires a motorist to raise one leg about six inches off the ground with his or her foot parallel to the ground. The individual is supposed to then count while staring at his or her foot. A police officer will look to see if the test subject sways, loses balance, or puts his or her foot down. The test is meant to determine whether a driver has a blood-alcohol content of 10 percent or higher and those who fail may be arrested for DUI.

Although a failed test may seem damaging, it is not scientific and is not always valid. For example, some individuals should never be asked to perform the one-leg stand test. Amongst these individuals are those older than 65, some overweight individuals, and those who have back, leg, or inner ear issues. Even those who are wearing high heels may have trouble accurately performing the test.

Studies have shown that the one-leg stand test is only about 65 percent accurate. Therefore, those who have been charged with drunk driving and facing the potential for serious penalties should consider the best way to put on a convincing criminal defense.

Source: FieldSobrietyTests.org, "One-Leg Stand Test," accessed on Oct. 9, 2016