The police usually use one of three standardized field sobriety tests, developed with research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the NHTSA, these tests provide a good indication of whether a driver is intoxicated or not. The problem is that the NHTSA knows there are many people who fail these tests even when sober. If you're the one who supposedly fails this test, even if you're not intoxicated, you may end up going to jail for what the police know is not a highly accurate test.
Standing on One Leg Test
When conducting the One Leg Stand test, the police are supposed to give very specific instruction on how to do the test. If they don't give the right instructions, they are not conducting the test as it is supposed to be done, which can result in you failing the test, and getting arrested unfairly.
Proper instruction begins with telling the driver to stand with their heels together, arms to the side, and not to begin until they say so. The officer is then supposed to demonstrate the test, telling the driver what to do as they show how to perform the test. This begins with raising one leg about six inches off the ground with the foot pointed outward, eyes looking at the lifted foot.
While holding one leg up, the driver is supposed to count out loud: “one thousand and one, one thousand and two”, and so on until the officer says to stop. This is supposed to go on for only 30 seconds, but a couple of extra seconds can really push the limits of most people doing this test.
After giving the instructions, the police will observe the test taker, looking for any reason to give them a “fail.” Things they are looking for are hopping on one foot; flailing arms to gain balance; not being able to stand on one leg for 30 seconds; or swaying off balance.
Passing the One Leg Stand Test
Although some people can pass the test to show that they are not intoxicated, even sober people can fail this inaccurate test. What's even worse, is that some people who are above the legal limit can pass this test, which raises the question of what good is this arbitrary test? The police can use it to justify a DUI arrest, but even if you pass, the police can still arrest you if they have probable cause that you were intoxicated. Taking this, or any of the field sobriety tests sets people up to fail.
If you are asked to perform the One Leg Stand test, or any of the field sobriety tests, it may be in your best interest to simply say “no.” These tests are not required by law, they are completely voluntary. Seeing as how they can be used against you in court, and are not accurate in determining if someone is intoxicated or not, refusal may be your best option. Politely tell the police, “I have been advised by my lawyer to refuse any field sobriety tests.” They may make it seem like refusing will make them arrest you, you likely would have been arrested anyway. At least by refusing, they don't have evidence of a failed arbitrary test to use against you.
Intoxicated Driver Defense in Atlanta
Looking on the bright side, even if you've taken and “failed” the One Leg Stand test, it doesn't mean you will be convicted for a DUI. As an Atlanta lawyer who dedicates herself to DUI defense, I have taken the same Standardized Field Sobriety Test training as the police and Georgia State Patrol officers. Because of this, I can question the police who arrested you, and find out all the things they did wrong, to get your charges reduced or dropped.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence with or without any field sobriety tests, give me a call as soon as you can, so we will talk about what happened, and how we can make sure you keep your license, and get the fair treatment you deserve.