One Leg Stand Test

If you get pulled over for suspected drunk driving, you will likely be asked to perform a field sobriety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved three tests for use in determining drunkenness in motorists. One of them is the one leg stand test.

As the name implies, the one leg stand test requires that you stand on one leg for a specific period of time while a police officer examines you for signs of intoxication. Even though the results of the test can be used in court as evidence, the test is not foolproof. There are many factors that can cause you to fail the test. Even if you are sober, passing the test can be quite a challenge.

If you are asked to perform a one leg stand test, it’s important to know how the test works, what it aims to do, and why you may fail the test. If you’ve been charged with DUI after failing a one leg stand test, a Chicago DUI lawyer can help.

Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential case consultation.

How the One Leg Stand Test Works

During the one leg stand test, the police officer will instruct you to:

  • Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides.
  • Refrain from starting the test until instructed to do so.
  • Raise one leg six inches above the ground, with the foot pointed out.
  • Keeping both legs straight without moving the arms.
  • Count loudly starting at one thousand (e.g. one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.) until told to stop. The test typically lasts 30 seconds.
  • Watch your raised foot while performing the test.

While you are balancing your leg, the police officer will look for any signs that could indicate intoxication. If you hop, use your arms for balance, sway your body, or put your foot down before the 30 seconds are up, you could be arrested for drunk driving.

Purpose of the One Leg Stand Test

The one leg stand test is designed to provide an indication as to whether you are intoxicated. The test requires divided attention and focus on the numerous instructions. As such, if you cannot focus on the instructions or perform the test properly, the officer may have probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated and not in a state to operate a motor vehicle.

Factors That Can Affect One Leg Stand Test Accuracy

When performed on its own, the one leg stand test is only 65 percent reliable. When done in conjunction with another test, the reliability increases to 80 percent. That means that if the officers used the one leg stand test to determine whether you were intoxicated, there is at least a 20 percent chance that their conclusions were wrong. Your Chicago DUI lawyer can argue that the police lacked the probable cause to arrest you, which may result in the dismissal of the charges.

There are many factors that affect the accuracy of the one leg stand test. The terrain is one factor. The test must be performed in near-perfect conditions. The ground must be level, dry, and hard. A test done on a soft, wet, or uneven area will likely result in failure. If you’re a woman, the officer should instruct you to take off your high heels so that you can perform the test properly.

In addition, there should be sufficient light in order for you to perform the test. However, most tests are done at night with flashing and disorienting lights, making them difficult to pass. Medical issues can also make it difficult to stand on one leg for an extended period of time. Injuries, illnesses, weight, and age may all skew the results.

How O’Meara Law Can Help

A one leg stand test can be difficult even for sober people. If you failed and got arrested for drunk driving as a result, there are many ways a Chicago DUI lawyer can help. For instance, if the one leg stand test – or any other field sobriety test – was administered improperly or by an officer without sufficient training, your test results may be invalid. Alternatively, if the police cannot justify why they pulled you over initially, your DUI arrest and the resulting charges may be challenged.

With proper legal representation, you can have your DUI charge dropped, obtain an acquittal at trial, or at least a beneficial plea deal. As a former prosecutor with more than 20 years in the courtroom, Chicago DUI lawyer Michael O’Meara has the experience to provide you with strong criminal defense.

If you want to push back against the system and maintain your freedom, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential case assessment.