In parts one through three of this series on the South Carolina DUI investigation process we discussed the initial DUI traffic stop, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) field sobriety test, and the Walk-and-Turn Sobriety Test. The next test in the officer's arsenal in his DUI investigation is the One-Leg Stand sobriety test. In this installment we'll discuss what the One-Leg Stand test is, what is expected of a DUI suspect in performing the test, and how a South Carolina DUI Lawyer may be able to help exclude any negative results or significantly minimize their value as evidence in your DUI case.
The one-leg stand test is a standard field sobriety test used by police to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. The one-leg stand test is a "divided attention" test, meaning it requires a person to divide his attention between the mental task of following instructions and the physical tasks of standing on one foot and maintaining balance.
The officer will instruct a DUI suspect to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground with toe pointed. While maintaining perfect balance, the person must count in thousands (one thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) for thirty seconds. During this time arms must remain at the subject's side and they must look down at their foot. While the DUI suspect is completing this test, the police officer will be looking for four "clues" of alcohol impairment. The clues are: (1) putting your foot down before the test is completed, (2) swaying while trying to maintain your balance, (3) hopping while trying to maintain your balance, and (4) lifting your arms off your sides to help maintain balance. If the officer observes two or more clues, he will conclude that you are under the influence of alcohol to the point that you cannot drive.
This test is very difficult for anyone, whether sober or intoxicated, and the less than ideal conditions present on the side of road make the test nearly impossible. Additionally, people who are overweight, people over the age of 65 and people who have any kind of physical limitation may be unable to perform the one-leg stand test.
If you have failed the one-leg stand test and were arrested for drunk driving, a DUI attorney could help you to challenge the test and the results. A DUI lawyer knows how the one-leg stand test should be administered and can point out any flaws in the officer's instructions and in test conditions if they exist. Even a slight deviation from the correct instructions or ideal conditions seriously compromises test accuracy.