The Walk and Turn Test is a field sobriety test used by officers during an investigation for suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). The officer should ask the suspect before conducting the test if he or she has any problems affecting their balance. The officer will either instruct the suspect to stand on a line if one is available or imagine a line from the officer’s feet to their feet. The officer will then instruct the suspect to place their left foot on the line followed by placing the right heel against the toe of the left foot. The officer will then continue instructing the suspect while he or she must hold this position. The officer then tells the suspect that he or she is to do 9 heel-to-toe steps on the line while counting the steps out loud. Next, the suspect must turn after nine steps by leaving their front foot on the line while taking small steps with the other foot to turn 180 degrees and then complete 9 more heel-to-toe steps. The officer will then state your arms are to remain down at your sides throughout the entire test. The officer will demonstrate the walk and turn test for the suspect as well.
Officers are trained to look for 8 different “clues” while conducting a Walk and Turn Test. Those clues are: cannot keep balance while listening to instructions, starts the test too soon, stops walking during the test, does not touch heel-to-toe on steps, steps off the line, uses arms to balance, performs incorrect turn, and takes the incorrect number of steps. The officer only needs to witness two clues for the suspect to be considered intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of 0.08.
This test is considered the second most accurate field sobriety test although multiple factors can affect the result of the test. For the test to be conducted most accurately it should be done on a level, flat, reasonably dry, and non-slippery surface. Another circumstance that can affect the test is the footwear of the suspect. If a person is wearing a heel over two inches or higher, flip-flops, or platform shoes the officer should give the suspect the opportunity to perform the test barefoot rather than in their footwear. The weather and wind can also affect the suspect’s balance while conducting this test. Another factor that can affect the suspect’s ability to perform this task is the person’s age and physical condition.
This field sobriety test is normally used in conjunction with the HGN test and the One Leg Stand test. Although the test is considered accurate it can be challenged as there are many factors that can affect the results considering most of the time this test is conducted roadside. The health of the suspect and the weather are two factors that can play a significant role in the accuracy of the test. Contact our Minneapolis DWI Lawyers today for a legal consultation.