What Is The One Leg Stand Test?
THE ONE LEG STAND TEST
In this test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (One thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer looks for four indicators of impairment, including swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down. 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). As stated above, the validity one leg stand test results are dependent upon law enforcement officers following the established, standardized procedures for test administration and scoring. The criteria to establish a proper test are set forth in the NHTSA manaual as follows:
- Requirement of a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface.
- Is the individual over 65 years of age? Did officer question whether individual was over 65 years of age?
- Did officer ask the individual whether he or she has any back, leg or middle ear problems?
- Did the officer check to see whether the suspect was overweight by 50 or more pounds?
- Did the officer check to see whether individual is wearing heels more than 2” high and if so, did he give them the opportunity to remove their shoes?
- “Please stand with your feet together and your arms down at the sides, like this.” (Demonstrate)
- “Do not start to perform the test until I tell you to do so.”
- “Do you understand the instructions so far? (Make sure suspect indicates understanding).”
- “When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately 6 inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground.” (Demonstrate one-leg stance.)
- “You must keep both legs straight, arms at your side.”
- “While holding that position, count out loud in the following manner: one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, until told to stop.”
- Demonstrate a count as follows: one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, etc.
- “Officer should not look at his foot when conducting the demonstration” – OFFICER SAFETY
- “Keep you arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot.”
- “Do you understand?” (Make sure the suspect indicates understanding.)
- “Go ahead and perform the test.”
- “Officer should always time the 30 seconds. Test should be discontinued after 30 seconds.”
- Observe the suspect from a safe distance.
- “If the suspect puts the foot down, give instructions to pick the foot up again and continue counting from the point at which the foot touched the ground.”
- “If the suspect counts very slowly, terminate the test after 30 seconds.”
- “Observe the suspect from a safe distance and remain as motionless as possible during the test so as not to interfere.”
Information obtained from www.nhtsa.gov and is considered public information provided at www.ohiopd.com
SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Recall the indicators of impairment:
- swaying while balancing,
- using arms to balance,
- hopping to maintain balance, and
- putting the foot down.
The One leg stand test requires your body to something unnatural; maintain a rigid body structure while precariously balanced. The most natural reaction to being on one foot is to sway to find your center of gravity while lifting your arms like a tightrope walker. Why do humans do this? This technique provides several advantages. It distributes mass away from the pivot point and moves the center of mass out. This reduces angular velocity because her center of mass is now swinging through a longer arc. It takes longer to sweep out the same angle because the center of mass has a longer distance to go. The result is less tipping. Millions of years of evolution have designed complex vestibular systems and wired our brains to act this way. Unfortunately, swaying and holding your arms out will be counted as indicators of impairment according to the government.
As any skipping child will tell you, hopping is an instinctive way to quickly correct the body when attempting to locate the center of gravity. Again law enforcement uses natrual and instinctive behavior to allege intoxication. As documented in other articles on this blog, overweight people, older people, arthritic people and the simply uncoordinated may have trouble immediately finding and maintaining balance under ideal and fair conditions. However law enforcement will unfairly count putting a foot down as an indicator of impairment. It is up to your attorney to make a compelling defense against the use of this biased and unfair one leg stand test to demonstrate that you were impaired.