Walk-and-Turn Test Administration
When an officer pulls over a driver for a suspected DUI, he or she can use any number of sobriety tests. The nine-step walk and turn is one of the standardized field sobriety tests, and a good Orange County DUI lawyer will have thorough knowledge of its methodology and results.
How It Works
The suspect driver must follow instructions to walk along a line heel to toe, then turn and walk back. As a standardized National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test, the instructions should be given consistently for clarity and uniformity. Here are some details:
- The suspect driver starts by stepping onto the line with the left foot.
- Next, the right foot is placed on the line in front of the left with heel to toe. The officer demonstrates the stance for the subject.
- The officer then shows how the arms are held against the sides, instructing the suspect that this should be done throughout the test.
- The officer’s directions are to tell suspects not start walking until they are told to “begin.” Suspects are asked if they understand.
- The suspect must also look at their feet and count while taking each step, and turn around after nine steps. A proper turn, demonstrated by the officer administering the test, requires that the front foot stay planted while using small steps with the other foot to turn.
- Next, the suspect walks back heel to toe while counting nine steps, arms at their side.
- Once the suspect states they understand the instructions, the officer gives the command to “begin” and the test starts. If the suspect breaks their heel-to-toe balance, arm-to-side position or fails to count or look at their feet, the officer repeats the instruction and writes up the occurrence.
Note that the walk-and-turn test is also an evaluation of divided attention. Doing two things at once, such as counting and walking, requires divided attention, which is thought to be a driving skill. It may seem like a simple drill, but the walk-and-turn test requires standardized administration and presents challenges for the officer and subject to perform it correctly. If it was not performed with absolute clarity, the results could be contested in a court of law.
For further information about standardized and non-standardized DUI tests or any other legal advice for your DUI case, call an Orange County DUI lawyer at the officers of Coffey & Coffey at (800) 706-7888.