One Leg Stand Test (OLS)

The one leg stand is one of the three standard field sobriety tests that law enforcement will ask you to perform on the side of the street pending an arrest.   Before we get into this field sobriety test, there are a few things you should know about the tests in general.   first of all and most importantly, you are not required to perform any field sobriety tests; and there is no punishment for your refusal to do so. Therefore engaging in the field sobriety tests in general is always done at your own risk. The field sobriety tests stand in contrast to the alcohol test that you will be asked to perform back at the station. There is an MVA punishment for your refusal to perform the alcohol breath test at the station, you can see an article describing that in these resources. However, with the field sobriety tests there is no such requirement.

Having said that, the one leg stand is one of the three tests generally requested to be performed. The first one is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test which is an eye test. In this test they are looking for involuntary jerking of the eyes as they ask you to track their finger or pen in a horizontal fashion.  The second tests is the walk and turn test where the officer will ask you to walk nine steps and make a turn and then come back on the same line taking nine heel to toe steps. Both of these tests have already been described And explained in other resource articles on this website.

 As for the one leg stand,  the officer will ask you to stand in a certain position while he explains the test to you;  he expects you to be able to stand still without  falling over to the side while he explains his directions. Most importantly,  He expects you to stand still until he tells you to begin the test. It's like Simon says in that you are not supposed to move or begin the test until you are told to do so. The officers generally don't tell you the importance of standing there until told to move but that is one of the specific factors they are looking for.  So if you begin the test before you are told to do so you will get a strike against you.  Once the test begins you will be told to hold the foot of your choice 12 to 15 inches off the ground and to extend your toe outward, you will be told to start counting and to not stop counting until you were told to do so,  You will be told to keep your arms at your side and look at your foot. If you are able to count to 30 (although they won't tell you the number is 30) without having to place your foot on the ground, or swaying back and forth, you will have passed their silly test.

Once you have completed this particular tests they will factor the results of this test along with the other two tests that you performed and make an arrest decision. Importantly, one other thing they may ask you to do is the preliminary breath test which is a breath test performed on the street. This breath test is not admissible in court as it is not deemed reliable however the officer can use the result of this breath test to factor into his arrest decision. It is for that reason that it is generally considered a bad idea to provide a breath sample on the street as the officer will automatically arrest you for blowing an illegal number even if your field tests are exemplary. He will bring you to the station to try to find out what is going on even if you did well on the test. Conversely, if you decline to do the PBT test as many people do, and you do very well on the field sobriety tests,  there is at least a chance that you may not be arrested.  Even so, attempting to perform the field sobriety tests is generally considered a bad idea as very few people are able to do them correctly the first time or the second time around.

Part of the problem with the field sobriety tests are that they are a divided concentration test meaning that you have to watch and listen to what he is telling you to do physically while you also have to perform tests mentally at the same time. Needless to say this is a difficult and challenging task at one in the morning on the side of the road in the dark while you're nervous being there with the officer. So for example on this particular test you are told to stand on 1 foot (for 30 seconds), but the balance of the instructions monitor your ability to both listen and to count to 30 while looking at your foot and keeping your hands at your side. All totaled this is a very difficult task to perform the first time around. I would suggest that the cards are stacked against you and it is an unfair request.

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