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Do you know what's really going on in field sobriety tests? - III

In today's post, we'll conclude our ongoing discussion of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, the three tests -- the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk-and-turn test and one-leg stand test -- used by law enforcement officials to measure driver intoxication based purely on observation of physical responses.

In today's post, we'll examine the one-leg stand test.

What is the one-leg stand test?

As implied by the name, the one-leg stand test involves a law enforcement official asking a motorist to stand on one leg and keep the other foot hanging exactly six inches above the pavement.

The motorist will then be required to count upwards by thousands while being timed by the law enforcement official for thirty seconds.

What is the law enforcement official looking for in the one-leg stand test?  

The law enforcement official is looking for four impairment indictors, including use of arms to maintain balance, hopping on the planted foot to maintain balance, putting the hanging foot onto the pavement and excessive swaying while attempting to balance.

What's the purpose of the one-leg stand test?

Like the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test is a "divided attention test." This means it requires motorists to perform very basic physical movements and simultaneously carry out very basic instructions. While this is typically very easy for sober motorists, it can prove to be much more difficult for motorists under the influence of alcohol.  

How accurate is the one-leg stand test?

The NHTSA has determined that the one-leg stand test can properly classify 83 percent of all DUI suspects who show two or more impairment indictors.

While these NHTSA research numbers may make it seem like the SFST is essentially foolproof, this is far from the case. Indeed, you should always consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you've been arrested for drunk driving, as they can work to uncover any flaws in the administration of field sobriety tests. 

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