Criminal Law

One Leg Stand

The “one leg stand” is the third and final Standardized Field Sobriety Test a police officer will use on a person they have stopped for suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Arkansas.

The one leg stand is broken into two parts. First is the Instruction stage. Second is the Balance and counting stage.  In the Instruction stage the person is required to stand with their feet together and their arms placed by their side and listen to the officer explain and demonstrate the test.  During the second stage, the person must raise the foot of their choice approximately six inches off the ground with their hands by their side while looking down at the elevated foot. The person must then count to thirty out loud.

During the test, the officer is looking for four different clues that the person may be intoxicated. The officer checks to see if the person puts their foot down during the test, whether the person uses their arms for balance, whether the person is swaying, and whether the person hops to maintain their balance.

The one leg stand is one of the NHTSA validated field sobriety tests. Initial research of the one leg stand showed it to be around 65% accurate in determining when a person’s blood alcohol content was at or above 0.10.

The instructions for the one leg stand say that it must be performed on a hard, level, non-slippery surface. If the roadside where the test is being performed is not hard, level, or non-slippery, the test isn’t supposed to be done, and only the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test should be given.

These are the instructions for the test, but that’s rarely what happens in the real world. This is good for Arkansas Defense Attorneys who can use the instructions to invalidate the test results when the test is not performed as designed.  That means that if the test was done on a roadside that was unlevel, soft, or slippery, we can likely get the results of the test thrown out.

Although the test is considered a NHTSA validated test, there are some people who the police aren’t supposed to give the test to. The test is not designed for individuals over the age of sixty-five.  The test is not designed for people with any type of inner ear issues. The test is not designed for people who have leg or back problems. The test was not designed for people who are more than 50 pounds overweight.

All in all, the test has many flaws and many ways we can attack it at trial.

Also, with some of the specific instructions regarding when and how the test should be administered, the actual administration or non-administration of the test can be evidence of whether or not it was actually appropriate for the officer to have conducted other standardized field sobriety tests.  This means that if the test shouldn’t have been given, we may be able to say other tests shouldn’t have been given.

One of the most important tools in assessing whether or not the test was administered correctly is the police body or dash cameras.  Without the test being preserved on video, in many cases, it is very hard to initially determine if the test was performed correctly or not.  A skilled Arkansas DWI Attorney will be able to review all the evidence and pick out the issues that may be present in the field sobriety tests.  However, it is very important to get an attorney quickly after an Arkansas DWI arrest.  Police departments are only required to preserve videos for certain time periods absent specific orders to do otherwise.

We know facing a DWI can be scary.  Make sure you and your rights are protected.  Call us today, so we can start working on your case and take the proper steps to preserve any defenses you may have.

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