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Louisiana drunk driving: What is the one-leg stand test?

Louisiana residents who have been pulled over for suspected impairment may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. One such test is called the one-leg stand test. While this is considered to be a good way for police officers to test for drunk driving, it is not without its faults.

The purpose of this and any other field sobriety test is two-fold. First, it allows an officer to judge one's ability to listen to and follow directions. Second, it tests one's physical ability to complete the task.

During a one-leg stand test, the officer will first give verbal instructions about how to complete the test and will then have to ask if one understands the instructions before proceeding. To perform the test, one will have to raise one foot six inches off the ground and remain steady while keeping his or her arms at his or her side. He or she will then be asked to count in thousands while staring at the raised foot and maintaining balance. One will fail the test if at least two signs of impairment are noted. These may include:

  • Swaying
  • Hopping
  • Putting the foot down
  • Using arms for balance

The one-leg stand test is thought to have a 65 percent accuracy rating. However, one's age, weight, medical history and shoes can all affect the outcome of this test. As this is the case, it is not always the best indicator for impairment. Louisiana residents who have arrested and charged with drunk driving based on the results of a one-leg stand test may be able to fight the charge by questioning the validity of the test results. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist with this and help the accused take any other actions deemed necessary to achieve the best outcome possible.

Source: fieldsobrietytests.org, "One-Leg Stand Test", Accessed on May 3, 2017

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