The one leg stand test is one of the standardized field sobriety tests used to determine if a driver is operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Below, learn more about how the one leg stand test is scored by the police.
In regards to scoring the one leg stand, a driver may be scored a point for swaying while balancing. Police officers are trained not to be too critical in regards to this scoring as the driver taking the test is not a gymnast and some swaying is a natural human reaction. The swaying that can be scored is a marked sway, which would be a back and forth motion while the driver maintains the position.
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Another aspect of the scoring would be the driver using their arms for balance, raising them six or more inches from the side of the body. The police officer has to take into account the natural position of the arms. For example, some bodybuilders or men with large arms may have a natural position of more than six inches.
A third scoring factor on the test is whether or not a driver hops on one foot during the test. This is scored only if the driver resorts to hopping on the anchor foot in order to maintain balance. This point should not be scored if the driver is having difficulty by moving the anchor foot back and forth. As part of training, police officers are supposed to be able to distinguish this and to allow the driver this movement.
Finally, if the driver places their foot down, even if more than once, only one point can be given. The driver should be allowed to continue from the point of difficulty as the one leg stand could lose sensitivity if it is repeated several times. The driver has to be instructed to keep watching the raised foot and to count out loud, but no points are issued if this instruction is not followed.
If the driver counts too slowly, it is important that the officer stop the test after 30 seconds have elapsed as this could affect the scoring and validity of the test. Police officers are trained to time 30 seconds of total test time so if the driver counts too fast, the officer will instruct them to slow down.
A person can receive a maximum score on this test in two ways. The first way is if the driver puts the foot down three or more times during the 30 second count. The second way is if the driver can’t perform the test because of their intoxication level.
If this happens, the maximum score is given; however, police officers have to be able to articulate why they felt that the defendant was incapable. The one leg stand test administered alone is considered approximately 65 percent effective if instructed and scored properly.
For the purposes of the police report and any courtroom testimony, the officer is trained that it is simply not enough to write the driver’s score on the three tests. The numeric scores are only important to the police officer at the scene in order to establish probable cause.
A score is insufficient to secure a criminal conviction in a court of law and has to be accompanied by more descriptive evidence. The police officer has to be able to describe in detail how the driver performed. Remember, once again, that you do not have to take the field sobriety tests and you can politely decline when the officer requests that you participate in the tests.
Some of the questions concerning the one leg stand are:
- Did the officer ask you to stand on one leg?
- If the answer is yes, what directions did the officer give to you about this test before you began?
- Did the police officer specifically demonstrate this test for you?
- How long did the test take, specifically did you have to count to 30 or another number?
- How was your performance on this test?
- Did the officer comment on your performance on this test?
If you want to refute the results of a one leg stand test or of another standardized field sobriety test, contact our office for help.