Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DWI Field Sobriety Tests - The One Leg Stand (Explained)

Just like with the the Walk & Turn test, another standard Field Sobriety Test you should prepare yourself for - as you would "study up" before any sort of examination - is the One Leg Stand Test.  To do your best on this task, an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney is going to tell you that it is important that you understand not only the procedures involved but also what the cops are really looking for when they have your perform this test.  Plus, like with the other Drunk Driving tests, this one also makes for a fun party game, no?

One Leg Stand Test (Explained)

As with any of these tests, the officer who has you perform them will most likely will read from a set of instructions much like those offered here - straight from the standard field manner for how to administer such exercises.

First, before having your perform the test, the officer should make sure that you are on a hard, level, non-slippery surface. (Special consideration should also be given to those individuals over a certain age, of a certain weight and/or those who have a physical impairment that would affect their performance.)

As with the Walk & Turn Test, this test also consists of two stages: instruction and performance.

The Instructions

During this stage, you will be the told what to do and and ways to score.  In addition, these instructions should not only be explained to you, the officer should also demonstrate the test . Here's what you should be tasked with.
  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms down at the sides, (like this.)
  2. Do not start to perform the test until I tell you to do so.
  3. Do you understand the instructions so far?
  4. When I tell you to start, raise one leg, either leg, with the foot approximately six inches off the ground, keeping your raised foot parallel to the ground."
  5. You must keep both legs straight, arms at your side.
  6. 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.'
  7. Keep your arms at your sides at all times and keep watching the raised foot.
  8. Do you understand?
  9. Go ahead and perform the test.
In addition, you should also be told that if you put your foot down while taking the test, that you should pick it up and continue counting from the point where your foot touched the ground.

The Performance/Scoring

As with any test, you're going to want to know how it's score - so you can do what's necessary to pass, right? Not knowing the criteria - coupled with trying to perform this test at night, with a cop bearing down on you, and traffic whizzing by - is bound to impact even the best test-takers performance. So, try this, before you read ahead, take a stab at the test. Then, after you've read the "teacher's guide" try it again.  My guess is, your performance will improve. 

During this test, the officer is looking for these behaviors: 
  • Raising your arms in order to gain your balance
  • Hopping on one-foot
  • Swaying
  • Putting your foot down and/or touching the ground
  • Failing to complete the test 
This is what your performance will be graded on. And, believe it or not, two or more of these "signs" can equal a FAIL and give the officer probable cause to arrest you. 

What To Do

If your not doing some pre-test studying - but rather you've been arrested for Drunk Driving after failing this silly examination, your next, best step should be to contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney. The One-Leg Stand Test - like nearly all of these tasks - is entirely subjective, and a person could fail it for many reasons other than being intoxicated. An attorney can investigate whether the test was administered properly and what your performance really showed.

But, just as I explained before, in the State of Minnesota taking these tests is completely voluntary. As such, my advice to you is: Don't take these tests - they cannot help you. As a matter of fact, they'll often only hurt one's chances of beating a Drunk Driving charge because the cops tend to pay more attention to every little slip or misstep you make and they often ignore or disregard every correct one - o paint a picture of you as a drunk driver. 

Just say no!

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