In past weeks, we have discussed the three types of field sobriety tests sanctioned by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that comprise the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST): the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or HGN test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test. This week, we will examine the one-leg stand test in greater detail.
When a person is pulled over by a law enforcement officer in Oklahoma for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer may order the individual out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. The purpose of field sobriety testing is to allow an officer to observe a suspect’s balance, ability, attention level, and/or other factors that the officer may use to determine whether the suspect is driving under the influence.
In the One-Leg Stand test, the person suspected of DUI is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud until told to put the foot down. The officer times the suspect for 30 seconds. Standard NHTSA instructions are as follows:
- Stand with your feet together and your arms at your side
- Maintain position until told otherwise.
- When I tell you to, I want you to raise one leg, either one, approximately 6
inches off the ground, foot pointed out, both legs straight and look at the
elevated foot. Count out loud in the following manner: 1001, 1002, 1003,
1004 and so on until told to stop.
- Do you understand the instructions?
- You may begin the test
The officer looks for four indicators of impairment:
- Sways while balancing; side-to-side or back-and-forth motion while the suspect maintains the one-leg stand position.
- Uses arms for balance; suspect moves arms six or more inches from the side of the body.
- Hopping; suspect is able to keep one foot off the ground, but resorts to hopping in order to maintain balance.
- Puts foot down; the subject is not able to maintain the one-leg stand position, putting the foot down one or two times during the 30-second count.
NHTSA research indicates that 83 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more such indicators in the performance of the test will have a BAC of 0.08 of greater (Stuster and Burns, 1998).
If you have questions regarding field sobriety tests, or have been accused of DUI, contact our office to speak with a qualified DUI lawyer in Tulsa. Because we believe that everyone deserves equal access to qualified legal counsel, we offer free consultations. We will provide an honest and straightforward analysis of your Tulsa DUI case and devise a plan to fight your charges, if possible. Our firm has been representing Oklahomans for over 30 years. Contact us at 918-592-1144.