Walk and Turn Test

dui stop testDrivers stopped by Florida law enforcement under suspicion of DUI may undergo a field sobriety test like the “walk-and-turn” test. This type of impairment assessment focuses beyond our normal abilities, overloading our senses to truly analyze our capabilities. DUI field testing will help police officers differentiate between our instinctual behaviors and those signifying illegal BAC levels. 

It’s important to understand that field sobriety testing isn’t the most reliable way for an officer to make a quick judgment about the drunken state of a stopped driver; there are numerous pre-existing health conditions that could interfere with the outcome of this type of testing.

Administration of the 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. 

The police officer should follow standard procedures for the walk and turn test. First, the police officer should have the suspect assume a heel to toe stance, then give the following verbal instructions along with demonstrations:

  • “Place your left foot on the line (the line can be real or imaginary)”
  • “Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with the heel of the right foot against the toe of the left foot”
  • “Place your arms down at your sides”
  • “Keep this position until you can begin. Do not start walking until told to do so”
  • The police officer should ask if the suspect understands the instructions
  • The police officer should then explain the test requirements, using the following verbal instructions along with demonstrations:
  • “When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back”
  • “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”
  • “While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud”
  • “Once you start walking, don’t stop until you’ve completed the test”
  • “Do you understand the instructions?”
  • “Begin and count your first step from the heel to toe position”

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.

Evidence Police Look for During the Turn and Walk Test

As the suspect performs the assessment, the policeman will pay close attention while keeping in mind any stated disabilities or health conditions that might interfere. Potential evidence of impairment may include:

  • 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 an incorrect number of steps

If the policeman witnesses two or more of these reactions, he may determine that the defendant is guilty of DUI.

Possible DUI Sobriety Test Defenses

Even if you failed the walk-and-turn test during your DUI stop, you may still have a possible defense against the office declaring you were drunk. Your attorney will review some of the below situations that may have an effect on your case:

Due to the harsh consequences of DUI offenses in Florida, your rights, freedom, and future are at stake. Avoid accepting whatever sentence the court decides to hand you and consult with an attorney before attempting to represent yourself. 

Orlando DUI Defense Attorneys Challenge the Walk-and-Turn Test

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.

At The Umansky Law Firm, as members of Florida Trend’s Elite Lawyers, we use our more than 100 years of combined experience to defend your case against DUI charges in Orlando and Central Florida. We work with you to investigate the details of your stop and create a solid defense against the prosecution. We tirelessly challenge these types of unreliable field sobriety tests to minimize the negative impacts that could potentially devastate your life. Receive a free consultation at any time by contacting us online or calling (407) 228-3838.