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Georgia drunk driving: Is the one-leg stand test accurate?

When a driver is suspected of driving under the influence, law enforcement authorities in Georgia have the right to perform a routine traffic stop. During that stop, field sobriety tests may be performed in order to determine if drugged or drunk driving is actually an issue. One of the tests used is called the one-leg stand test. While many believe this test to be quite accurate, others would disagree.

Field sobriety tests are administered for two main reasons. First of all, there is a need to establish whether a driver is able to listen to, understand and follow directions -- this shows one's mental state. Secondly, there is a need to witness one's physical ability to perform the requested task.

The one-leg stand is just that. The individual thought to be impaired will be asked to stand on one leg while raising his or her other foot off of the ground. He or she will be required to maintain balance while keeping his or her hands at his or her sides, staring at his or her foot and counting until the officers says it is okay to stop.

During this test, the administering officer will look for signs of impairment. If two or more signs are noted, one will fail the test and likely be arrested and charged with DUI. Signs of impairment according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines include:

  • Swaying
  • Hopping
  • Placing the raised foot on the ground
  • Using arms to maintain balance

Is this test accurate? Under ideal circumstances, it is believed to be accurate about 65 percent of the time, but when are circumstances really considered ideal? There are various things that can affect the results of the one-leg stand test, some of which include weight, age, medical conditions, terrain and the type of shoes one is wearing. Those who have been charged with drunk driving in Georgia based on the findings of this or any other field sobriety test can, with the assistance of legal counsel, question the results which could, in the end, help them fight the criminal charges against them.

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

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