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One Leg Stand | Chicago DUI Lawyer

As the name of the test implies, this roadside Field Sobriety Test requires you to stand on one leg. The officer will tell you to extend one leg in front of you in a stiff legged manner and hold the foot of that leg about 6 inches above and parallel to the ground.Then you'll probably be asked to stare at your raised foot and count out loud until the officer tells you to stop. But you won't be counting in an ordinary fashion. You'll likely be told to count: "one thousand and one, one thousand and two," etc.
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One Leg Stand

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Chicago DUI Lawyer: The One Leg Stand Test

When you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the officer will often administer a roadside Field Sobriety Test. You might later receive a chemical test of your Blood Alcohol Content that will provide additional evidence for your DUI charge.

The U.S. NHTSA has standardized three of the common Field Sobriety Tests for use throughout the nation. These three widely-used standardized roadside performance tests consist of the:

  • One Leg Stand Test
  • Walk and Turn Test
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

Chicago DUI Lawyer Explains Officer Procedure for Administering the One Leg Stand Test

As the name of the test implies, this roadside Field Sobriety Test requires you to stand on one leg. The officer will tell you to extend one leg in front of you in a stiff legged manner and hold the foot of that leg about 6 inches above and parallel to the ground.

Then you'll probably be asked to stare at your raised foot and count out loud until the officer tells you to stop. But you won't be counting in an ordinary fashion. You'll likely be told to count: "one thousand and one, one thousand and two," etc.

Illinois DUI Charge Defense and Proper Administration of the One Leg Stand Test

Officers should be trained and instructed in specific procedures for administering Field Sobriety Tests like the One Leg Stand Test. Generally, officers will order you to perform the test in the following manner:

  • Stand  with your feet together and your arms down at your sides.
  • Remain in that position until you are told to begin the test.
  • Ask you if you have understood the instructions.
  • Tell you that when the officer says "begin" you must raise your leg in a stiff legged manner, hold your foot about 6 inches above and parallel to the ground; demonstrate the requested one legged stand; keep your arms at your sides, and continue looking at your raised foot while you count as follows: "one thousand and one, one thousand and two," etc. until the officer tells you to stop counting.
  • Ask you again if you have understood the instructions.
  • The officer will then tell you to begin. You will be evaluated on how well you are able to follow the instructions and perform the One Leg Stand Test

The officer is trained to conduct a test that lasts only 30 seconds. So even if you count slowly, the officer should tell you to stop the test after 30 seconds have passed. Officers are also trained to conduct the test on a reasonably hard, dry, level, and non-slip surface so as to mitigate possible errors (and defenses to a DUI charge). DUI suspects wearing heels that are more than two inches high should be given the chance to remove their shoes before the test.

Officers are also warned of research studies that show that drivers aged over 65, who are 50 or more pounds overweight, or who have back, leg, or middle ear problems do poorly on this test. If A DUI suspect falls into one of these poorly testing groups, the officer might select another Field Sobriety Test to perform instead. There are many from which to choose.

What these non-chemical roadside tests have in common is flawed reliability. Without baseline measurements of the suspect while sober for reference, the Field Sobriety Tests have questionable validity. And much controversy surrounds their use.

Chicago DUI Lawyer on How Officers Score the One Leg Stand Test

An experienced Chicago DUI Lawyer such as Michael P. Schmiege knows that a non-chemical Field Sobriety Test administered at the roadside provides a weak and unreliable method for evaluating whether or not you might be impaired by alcohol. Over time, the One Leg Stand Test has been tied by law enforcement to four main indicators of driver impairment. Officers will use your performance on these four indicators to decide whether or not to press you with a DUI charge.

  1. If you sway while you're balancing on one leg, this is taken as one indicator that your driving ability might be impaired. This is true whether you sway side-to-side or back to front.
  2. If you use your arms to balance yourself and lift them more than 6 inches away from your sides, this will taken as evidence of your impairment.
  3. If you're hopping instead of standing still in place, this will also indicate to the officer that you could be impaired.
  4. If you put the foot back down that is supposed to remain raised, this will also be used as evidence of impairment.

If you exhibit at least two of the above "indicators" of impairment, the officer will take this as evidence of a 65% probability that you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.10% or higher. The NHTSA, scientists, the U.S. DOT, and some law enforcement groups have all expressed doubts regarding non-chemical Field Sobriety Tests as an accurate indicator of driver impairment.

If you're facing a DUI charge based on One Leg Stand Test evidence, know your rights. Contact aggressive and experienced Chicago DUI Lawyer Michael P. Schmiege today for a free legal consultation and an effective, well-reasoned Illinois DUI Charge Defense.

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