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Understanding field sobriety tests: The single leg stand

If a law enforcement official suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, that officer may stop the person's vehicle to investigate the situation. In Oregon, a police officer may ask a suspected drunk driver to perform one or more field sobriety tests to demonstrate the driver's level of sobriety. One common test that drivers are asked to perform is the single leg stand, also sometimes called the one-leg stand.

During this test, a person is asked to exit his vehicle and to lift one of his feet off of the ground. He is asked to hold the foot at a certain level for a period of time. If the person leans, wobbles, puts his foot down, uses his arms for balance, or shows any other signs that he is unable to maintain his stance, the test may be used as evidence of his intoxication and may serve as a basis for the individual's drunk driving arrest.

As readers of this criminal law defense blog may expect, though, there are a variety of reasons that a person may not be able to successfully perform this supposed evaluation of sobriety. For example, a person may suffer from a medical condition that disrupts the equilibrium and balance, or he may have a physical condition that prevents him from bearing weight on the foot the officer asks him to stand on.

There are many other reasons that a person may fail the single leg stand field sobriety test, and in these situations a driver may be wrongly accused of drunk driving when he is sober. These and other issues arise in many drunk driving cases. Accordingly, people who have been charged with DUI and other drunk driving crimes may wish to discuss their case and the results of their field sobriety tests with an experienced defense attorney.

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