North Carolina DWI Field Sobriety Tests- One-Legged Stand
The three main Field Sobriety Tests used by police officers are the One-Legged Stand, the Walk-and-Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. This blog will deal with the One-Legged Stand. As a Raleigh DWI Attorney, I have had ample opportunity to explore each of these tests.
Field Sobriety Tests are those tests requested (note: NOT required) of people the Officer feel may be Driving While Impaired. They are performed outside of the vehicle, normally on the side of the road or the nearest safe location. The ‘Standardized Field Sobriety Test’ (as it is officially known) was created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The purpose of the tests is to ascertain whether the person being tested is “appreciable impaired” such that they have violated the North Carolina DWI law.
First to be evaluated is the One-Legged Stand. In this test, the Driver is requested to first stand with their feet shoulder-width apart as the instructions are given. The Officer will explain that the Driver is to stand on one foot, whichever the Driver chooses, while elevating the other foot 6-8 inches off the ground. The elevated foot should be pointed straight up. The Driver is to keep their hands at their side and stare at their foot while they count to 30 to themselves. Once 30 has been reached, the Driver can put their foot down and the test is over.
During the test, the officer is looking for several ‘clues.’ ‘Clues’ are what is suppose to indicate whether the driver is appreciably impaired. Obviously, the more ‘clues’ the Officer observes, the more likely the driver is impaired. The clues for the One-Legged Stand are putting the elevated foot down before 30, swaying, using hands for balance, and hopping to maintain balance.
As I will mention in each of these reviews, you should never agree to participate in any Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are never 100% accurate and therefore can possibly lead to an arrest for someone not impaired. Additionally, regardless of how well you think you will do, whatever happens during the test CAN and WILL be used against you should you be arrested. There is no reason to provide the Officers and Prosecutors MORE evidence to use against you. It is your CHOICE to perform the Field Sobriety Tests. Eventually, I will blog about the Intoxilyzer and Intoximeter, which are the two different ‘Breathalyzer‘ machines approved for used after arrest (note, this is different than the AlcoSensor, which is the machine used before arrest) and though it is your choice to provide a breath sample, refusing to do so carries with it consequences you should be aware of before you make that decision.