Walk and Turn Test

The third test NHTSA recommends is the walk and turn test. Simply put, the police officer wants to see if the suspect can walk a line with the proper balance and simultaneously have the ability to listen to instructions. According to NHTSA, the police officer prior to starting the test should always ask the suspect if he or she has had any injuries or other conditions which might affect his or her ability to walk or balance, including head, back, neck and leg injuries.

The police officer should follow the following standard procedures for the walk and turn test first by having the police officer should have the suspect assume a heel to toe stance and giving the following verbal instructions along with demonstrations:

1. “Place your left foot on the line (the line can be real or imaginary)” Field Sobriety Tests

2. “Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left food, with the heel of the right foot against the toe of the left foot”

3. “Place your arms down at your sides”

4. “Keep this position until you can begin. Do not start to walk until told to do so”

5. The police officer should ask if the suspect understands the instructions

6. The police officer should then explain the test requirements, using the following verbal instructions along with demonstrations:

7. “When I tell you to start, take nine heel to toe steps, turn, and take nine heel to toe steps back”

8. “When you turn, keep the front foot on the line and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot, like this”

9. “While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud”

10. “Once you start walking, don’t stop until you’ve completed the test”

11. “Do you understand the instructions?”

12. “Begin and count your first step from the heel to toe position”

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation, DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Manual (2000)

According to NHTSA, the police officer should look for the following clues:

· Suspect cannot keep balance or listen to instructions

· Suspect starts before instructions are finished

· Suspect stops while walking

· Suspect does not touch heel to toe

· Suspect steps off the line

· Suspect uses arms to balance

· Suspect takes an improper turn

· Suspect takes incorrect number of steps

The officer only needs two or more clues according to NHTSA to determine if the suspect is perhaps impaired by alcohol or something else. The officer should make sure that the suspect can see the line and should be performed on a dry, hard, level and non slippery surface.

Hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney is imperative to challenge the police officer’s training on conducting the test, the conditions under which the test was given, and to address any physical or mental issues the defendant may have had other than alcohol intoxication that might have caused poor performance on the walk and turn test. The foregoing three tests are the only tests that are acknowledged by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration as validated sobriety tests.

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