Just like the Walk and Turn, the One Leg Stand is a test commonly used by police to measure a DUI suspects level of impairment. Just like all other field sobriety exercises, it's not referred to as test, especially in front of jury. Why? Because you do not want it to sound like something you can actually pass or fail.
What to Expect
If the One Leg Stand sounds tough to you just by it's name. That's because it is probably the most difficult sobriety exercise your asked to do. Your instructed to stand with one foot, which ever foot you choose, six inches off the ground. While counting aloud by thousands (one thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.), until told to put your foot down. Your timed for 30 seconds.
During the One Leg Stand, the officer will be looking for four different clues, or indicators of impairment:
Sways while balancing: The acceptable amount of sway is about 3 inches in each direction, but officers will not ever measure exactly your sway and if you move at all you will most likely have it counted against you regardless of the amount.
Uses arms to balance: Inherent human nature is to put your arms out 90 degrees from your body helicopter style, but if you do you will fail, as you are supposed to follow the instructions and keep your arms by your side the entire duration of the exercise.
Hops to maintain balance: Whether you hop once or the entire time it counts against you the same.
Places foot down: Even if you do it just once, its a big no-no, and you won't think you have failed because the officer will instruct you, if you do put it down to just pick it back up and keep counting, giving you a false sense that its actually possible to put your foot down and still pass the test.
Here's an official police training video used in NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator) field sobriety test training courses:
Designed For Failure
Listed below are reasons why you should never agree to perform the One Leg Stand if suspected of DUI:
Focusing on Attention
- It's a divided attention test: The officer not only assessing your balance, they are trying to see how well you pay attention and follow instructions. If you perform any of the test contrary to his instructions, you will therefore fail. It's not so easy to listen and follow every instruction. It may be hard to hear him if it's loud outside. A lot will be running through your mind at that moment prohibiting you from paying full attention. You will be thinking about going to jail, you will be worried about losing your license, etc.
- You don't hop on one foot while driving: The thought of doing so is probably silly and funny to you. It should be! Since you aren't required to stand on one foot while driving a car. Why do you have to in order to determine if you are sober enough to drive a car? It doesn't make sense. You don't have to stand on one foot during your driving test at the DMV when you are 16. What does standing on one foot have anything to do with driving? Nothing, actually.
Failure of the One Leg Stand
- It's not as easy to stand on one foot as you would think: It's hard to balance on one foot even sober. Especially if it's late at night, your pulled over, you are nervous and its cold outside. Maybe its raining, you are on a narrow shoulder of a major highway with cars zipping past, etc. You could be wearing 6 inch heels. Being pulled over is stressful enough, and being suspected of DUI is even worse. You will be nervous.
- You will fail: That's right, just like the Walk and Turn, this exercise is also actually designed for failure. Miss just one of four clues listed above, even just once, and the officer may try to say you failed.
- Some people will always fail this test no matter what: Just like for the Walk and Turn, certain types of people should never perform this test. If you are overweight, had certain injuries or surgeries to back, legs, or knees, or if you take certain medication. Your ability to perform this test to its standards will be significantly impaired.
Practicing the One Leg Stand
- Perfect practice makes it perfect: Gym teachers in elementary school used to say the expression "practice makes perfect" is wrong. It's really perfect practice that makes it perfect. If you practice something the wrong way each time. You will always perform it wrong in the future. You are probably thinking OK, great, what the heck does that have to do with anything? What that means for you is that even if you have stood on one foot before. You never have done it the way your asked in a DUI investigation. Just like the Walk and Turn, you will not perform it perfectly the first time you try. You will not hit a home run the first time you swing the bat.
Summary of One Leg Stand
The people who developed the One Leg Stand think your ability to perform this exercise to its standards. They think it is directly correlated to your ability to drive unimpaired. To put it another way, drunk people shouldn't drive, and most drunk people can't stand on one foot. So therefore if you can't stand on one foot, you are probably drunk? The biggest problem is that most sober people can't stand on one foot either. Especially for that long, without hopping, swaying, or raising their arms.
Remember playing games as a little kid? Hopscotch, for example. You play that on one foot. But your allowed to hop. Your supposed to hop. You use you arms for balance by putting them out parallel to ground so you won't fall on your face. The point here is that the One Leg Stand isn't hopscotch. It's not a game. If you fail you go to jail - without a get out free card! So if you are ever asked to play - say no!
These are just a few of the many reasons why you should never submit to the One Leg Stand. Unfortunately many of you reading this are already arrested, and may have already performed this exercise. So I guess it's a little late and of little help to tell you. The best thing you could do is refuse to perform the One Leg Stand. Instead, if you have already been arrested and submitted to the exercise, the best thing to do is contact an experienced attorney in your state, city, or county for help in defending your case.
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