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How long can you stand on one leg and why does it matter?

When you get together with college friends for some fun and relaxation in your free time, do you ever engage in friendly competition? If you're a member of your schools' sports teams or are simply the type of person who enjoys a great contest, you may not be a stranger to physical fitness games or even intellectual competitions, such as those involving random trivia facts.

If drinking is part of your social scene at college then you might want to make seeing how long you can stand on one leg part of your social contests. This would definitely be nothing more than a light-hearted affair if you do it while hanging out with friends. It could possibly cause you to go to jail if the person asking you to perform the task is a Kansas police officer who has pulled you over in traffic.

What standing on one leg has to do with traffic stops

Police use field sobriety tests to determine if they have probable cause to make drunk driving arrests. If a cop stops you in traffic, asks you to exit your vehicle, then requests that you take the one-leg stand test, you can bet he or she thinks you're drunk or otherwise impaired and is trying to find a just cause to arrest you. The following list provides further information about such tests:

  • In addition to the one-leg stand test, an officer might ask you to perform a walk-and-turn test or a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
  • The walk-and-turn is a test to check balance, agility and your ability to successfully follow a series of simple instructions, without error.
  • If the officer tells you to track the object he or she is holding, or his or her own finger, using only your eyes, then it's a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which shows whether or not your eyeballs jerk before reaching their maximum peripheral vision point. Drunk people's eyes jerk sooner than sober people's eyes.

Competing with friends is one thing. Taking (and possibly failing) a test that can lead to a drunk driving arrest is quite another. Remember, however, that you do not have to comply with a Kansas police officer's request to take a field sobriety test. There is no legal or administrative penalty for declining.

What may happen down the line, either way

If you do take a field sobriety test and the officer fails you, it may constitute probable cause (if he or she had reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place) to arrest you for possible drunk driving. If you refuse the test, you still may face arrest and while there's no penalty for refusing, prosecutors may use the fact that you refused against you in court if you wind up facing charges.

The best way to mitigate such circumstances is to understand your rights ahead of time and know where to seek support to help you protect them. It might also not be a bad idea to brush up on your balance skills the next time you and your college friends get together.

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