Stand On One Leg? Why Basic Exercises are Used in DUI Cases

Exploring why the police sometimes use basic exercises instead of a breathalyzer as the sole determinant of a driver's intoxication.

Stand On One Leg? Why Basic Exercises are Used in DUI Cases
Photo by Blake Cheek / Unsplash

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that puts not only the driver at risk but also other individuals sharing the road. To combat this issue, police officers employ various methods to identify if a driver is intoxicated.

While breathalyzers are a common tool, there are instances where the police opt for a different approach: making the driver perform basic exercises to demonstrate their sobriety.

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind this method and shed light on its significance in ensuring proper legal procedures and road safety.

In many jurisdictions, law enforcement officers cannot compel individuals to undergo a breathalyzer test without reasonable suspicion of intoxication.

Asking a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test without demonstrating probable cause can violate legal procedures and infringe upon a person's rights.

By requesting basic exercises, the police aim to establish probable cause for further testing, including the administration of a breathalyzer test.

The purpose of the basic exercises is not to prove a driver's innocence outright.

Instead, these exercises serve as a means to collect evidence against the individual suspected of driving under the influence.

Failure to perform the exercises correctly or exhibiting signs of impairment provides the necessary probable cause for conducting additional tests and pursuing legal action if needed.

Ensuring Road Safety

While breathalyzers are reliable devices to detect intoxication levels, their use does not provide a comprehensive assessment of a driver's impairment.

Basic exercises, on the other hand, allow officers to observe a driver's physical coordination, balance, and motor skills.

These exercises serve as an additional tool to evaluate a driver's level of impairment and their ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Some commonly used exercises include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

These exercises require individuals to follow specific instructions while simultaneously demonstrating physical coordination and balance.

By observing a driver's performance in these exercises, police officers can gather tangible evidence of impairment, aiding in the determination of DUI charges.

Preventing False Positives

Breathalyzer devices are generally accurate in measuring blood alcohol content (BAC).

However, they can still produce false positives in certain circumstances.

Factors like mouth alcohol, residual substances, and medical conditions can affect the reliability of breathalyzer results.

By utilizing basic exercises in conjunction with breathalyzers, law enforcement officers can cross-validate the evidence and reduce the chances of false positives.

In some cases, individuals may exhibit signs of impairment due to factors unrelated to alcohol or drug consumption.

Fatigue, stress, or other medical conditions can affect a person's coordination and balance, potentially leading to false accusations of DUI.

The inclusion of basic exercises provides an additional layer of assessment, enabling officers to differentiate between individuals truly under the influence and those affected by other factors.


Although breathalyzer tests are pivotal in identifying cases of DUI, they are not infallible.

Basic exercises serve as a complementary method to establish probable cause, provide a comprehensive evaluation of impairment, and reduce the potential for false positives.

By incorporating these exercises into the process, law enforcement officers ensure proper legal procedures are followed while promoting road safety for all.

Next time you see a police officer performing basic exercises during a DUI stop, remember that it is not a mere demonstration of innocence but a crucial step in the legal process.

As responsible members of society, let us continue to support efforts that prioritize road safety and ensure justice is served.

Remember, drinking and driving endanger lives.

Always make responsible choices and plan for a sober ride if you choose to consume alcohol.

Together, we can make our roads safer for everyone.

Stay safe!