Field Sobriety Test: Walk and Turn
The Walk and Turn test requires the driver to take nine steps along a straight line, turn around, and take nine steps back. During the instructions phase, the police officer will ask the driver to remain standing with one foot directly in front of the other, with one heal touching the other foot's toe.
The test is, obviously, intended to evaluate coordination. It is also considered a "divided attention" test, meaning that it measures whether a person can pay attention to — and remember — multiple instructions about what they are being asked to do. As with all field sobriety tests, a driver's failure to accurately remember and follow instructions will be presented as evidence of impairment at trial.
Common Police Mistakes:
- Failing to demonstrate the maneuver by doing it for the driver
- Not asking the driver if he fully understands the maneuver
- Giving the instructions in an unapproved way
- Failing the driver based on opinion rather than point assessment
The officer is required to evaluate you by how many "points" you accumulate against yourself, not by his "opinion" that you performed poorly. The more points that are scored against you, the worse your performance is. There are nine possible points on the Walk and Turn test. They are:
- Losing balance during instructions
- Starting too soon
- Stopping the walk during the test
- Not touching heal to toe
- Stepping off the line
- Using arms to balance
- Losing balance while turning
- Incorrect number of steps
- Cannot do the test at all
The officer is instructed to stand at least three feet away, so as not to distract the driver. The driver should be instructed to walk on a visible line painted on the road surface.
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