The One Leg Stand Test is a field sobriety test that law enforcement may have you take in order to determine whether or not you are impaired. It is a divided attention test consisting of two stages: the instructions stage and the balance and counting stage.
In the instructions stage, the subject must stand with both feet together, keep arms at their sides and listen to instructions. This divides the subject’s attention between a balancing task (maintaining a stance) and an information processing task (listening to and remembering instructions).
In the balance and counting stage, the subject must raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately six inches off the ground, keeping raised foot parallel to the ground. While looking at the elevated foot, count out loud in the following manner: “one thousand and one,” “one thousand and two,” and “one thousand and three” until told to stop. This divides the subject’s attention between balancing (standing on one foot) and small muscle control (counting out loud).
The timing for a thirty-second period is an important part of the One Leg Stand Test. Original research showed that many impaired subjects are able to stand on one leg for up to 25 seconds, but few can do so for 30 seconds.
The One Leg Stand Test is administered and interpreted in a standardized manner, i.e., the same way every time. Officers carefully observe the suspect’s performance and look for four specific clues.
One Leg Stand Test Clues
- Sways while balancing
- Uses arms to balance
- Puts foot down
Inability to complete the One Leg Stand Test occurs when the person either puts his or her foot down three or more times during the 30 second period or cannot do the test.
Original research shows that if a subject exhibits two or more of the clues, or cannot complete the test, the subject’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is likely to be above .10. This criterion has been shown to be accurate 68 percent of the time.
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