Field Sobriety Tests: The Walk and Turn Test

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Field sobriety tests (FST) are used during an OWI traffic stop so that the police officer can collect enough evidence to meet his or her requirement of obtaining enough probable cause to legally take a sample of your blood, breath, or urine. Although there are many different types of field sobriety tests, the courts and scientific research have found that only three have enough support to prove that if two or more clues are seen then there is a high likelihood that the person has a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit. The second test we  will discuss is the Walk and Turn test.

The walk and turn test includes eight (8) clues, with a process of an instructional phase, followed with nine steps out, a turn, and nine steps back.  That makes over fifty ways that a driver could receive a negative score.  With three (3) negative scores you fail the walk and turn test. The Walk and Turn test is a “divided attention test” that consists of two stages: the instructions stage, and the walking stage.

During the instructional stage you will have to stand with your feet in a heel-to-toe position, you must keep your arms at their sides, and listen to the instructions. During this stage your attention is being divided between standing still, staying in the heal-to-toe position, listening, and trying to remember the instructions being told to you.

During the walking stage you will be asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps, then to turn in a prescribed manner, and then take nine heel-to-toe steps back, while counting the steps out loud and watching your feet. During the turn you will have to keep your foot on the line, and use the other foot to take several small steps to complete the turn. During this stage your attention is also divided. It is divided among a balancing test (walking heel-to-toe and turning around), a small muscle control task (counting out loud), and a short-term memory task (counting the number of steps in order while remembers the turning instructions).

The Officer administering the test will observe your performance while looking for eight clues: cannot balance during instructions, starts too soon, stops while walking, does not touch heel-to-toe, steps off line, uses arms to balance, loses balance on turns or turns incorrectly; and takes the wrong number of steps. Failing the Walk and Turn test occurs when you: step off the line three or more times, are in danger of falling, or cannot do the test. Research has shown that if you show two or more of the clues, or cannot complete the test, then your BAC is likely to be above .10.

Contact us today to set up a free consultation so that we can discuss the field sobriety tests that you were asked to do and whether the officer followed the correct procedure.

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