DUI/OVI – What is the One Leg Stand Test?

The One Leg Stand test is the final field sobriety test administered by police during DUI/OVI investigations. It is classified as a psychophysical test according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a divided attention test. The One Leg Stand test requires the individual to concentrate on two things: comprehending instructions and performing the test.

The One Leg Stand test is a 30 second timed test. The suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately 6 inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (i.e., one thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) until instructed to put their foot down. The officer is looking for 4 indicators of impairment:

  • Using Arms to Balance
  • Putting the Foot Down
  • Hopping to Maintain Balance
  • Swaying While Balancing

The criteria to establish a proper test according to the NHTSA manual are as follows:

  • Requirement of a dry, hard, level and non-slippery surface;
  • Is the individual 65 years of age or older and did the officer ask the person this question?
  • Did the officer ask whether the individual has leg, back or inner ear problems?
  • Did the officer determine if the person is 50 pounds or more overweight?
  • Did the officer require the individual to remove any shoes with heels of 2 inches or more?

The officer will then begin the test by issuing a series of instructions and demonstrations.

  • Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. (Officer will demonstrate).
  • Do not begin the test until instructed to do so.
  • When told to begin, raise on leg 6 inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground. (Officer will demonstrate).
  • Keep both legs straight with your arms at your side.
  • Count aloud in the following manner: one thousand-one, one thousand-two, until told to stop. (Officer will demonstrate).
  • Keep your arms at your side and watched your raised foot.
  • Do you understand? Perform the test. Officer will time the test, with the test ending after 30 seconds.

The NHTSA manual instructs law enforcement that if an individual exhibits 2 or more clues on the One Leg Stand test, the person fails the test. So, what’s the problem with this test? It is unnatural to remain in a rigid position while balancing. People naturally lift their arms, sway or hop to find a center of gravity. However, these actions will be counted against the person as clues of impairment. Moreover, the elderly, overweight people and those with arthritic conditions have issue finding a center of gravity and, thus, are more likely to fail the One Leg Stand test.

Moreover, most people have difficulty with this test because of the unnatural requirements placed on the body, intimidating atmosphere, elaborate instructions, and it simply being the first time that many have attempted this test. Furthermore, law enforcement sometimes fail to administer this test properly, such as be given incorrect instructions or not properly demonstrating the test. This leads to the validity of the test being questioned.

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI/OVI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI/OVI offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192. Attorney David Johnson is an experienced DUI/OVI attorney who will discuss your case, assist you in preparing a strong defense, and vigorously defend you against the DUI/OVI charge.

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