The Walk and Turn test is a divided attention test that is the second of the three field sobriety tests that may be administered to drivers suspected of DUI/OVI. While observing your performance on the test, the officer will be looking for eight clues, with the test being failed if two clues are present. It is never advisable to submit to this or any other field sobriety test.
The officer will begin the test by instructing you to stand with your right foot in front of your left, touching heel-to-toe. The officer will then demonstrate how the test is performed and give you a series of instructions. The scoring of this test begins immediately when the officer begins to give you instructions. The following are the eight clues of impairment for the Walk and Turn Test:
- The subject cannot maintain balance during the instructions;
- The subject starts the test too early;
- Stopping while walking;
- Not touching heel-to-toe;
- Stepping off the line;
- Raising arms for balance;
- Turning improperly; and
- Taking an incorrect number of steps.
1. Subject Cannot Maintain Balance During Instructions
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual requires that law enforcement instruct individuals to place their left foot on an imaginary line and place their right foot directly in front of their left, touching heel-to-toe. The person is then told to remain in that position until the instructions are finished. At the beginning of the Walk and Turn test, the individual must maintain their balance on the line and listen to the officer’s instructions. If the person fails to do this, the officer records it as a clue of impairment.
2. Subject Starts the Test Too Early
The NHTSA mandates that officers instruct individuals to not being the test until the instructions are completed. If the person begins the test before the instructions are complete, the officer will record the clue.
3. Stopping While Walking
The officer will instruct the person to not stop while walking while performing the test. If the individual ceases to walk, the officer will record the clue.
4. Not Touching Heel-to-Toe
Officers are required to instruct the person that they must touch heel-to-toe on each of the required 9 steps down the line and each of the 9 steps back. If a space of more than ½ inch is present between the heel and toe, the officer will record a clue.
5. Stepping Off the Line
The NHTSA manual requires that officer are to instruct individuals that they are to take the required steps down an imaginary line and then back. If the person steps off the imaginary line at any time, the officer will record a clue.
6. Raising Arms for Balance
Individuals are instructed by officers that they are to keep their arms at their sides during the entire test. If the person raises his or her arms more than 6 inches from their sides during the test, a clue is recorded.
7. Turning Improperly
The NHTSA manual requires that officers instruct individuals that after taking 9 steps heel-to-toe down an imaginary line, they are to keep their front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot. The officer is required to demonstrate this to the individual. If the person removes their foot from the line while turning, or does not take a series of small steps while turning (e.g., pivots or spins), the officer will record a clue.
8. Incorrect Number of Steps
If the person takes an incorrect number of steps, the officer will record a clue of impairment.
If an individual exhibits 2 or more clues during the Walk and Turn test, the person will be deemed to have failed the test. Many people have difficulty with this test, particularly when other officers are at the scene or during inclement weather. Moreover, for most people this is the first time they have performed this test. An exhaustive list of instructions, combined with an intimidating atmosphere, lead many people to fail this test. Furthermore, law enforcement sometimes fail to administer this test properly, such as by given incorrect instructions or not properly demonstrating the test. This leads to the validity of the test being compromised.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI/OVI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a DUI/OVI offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192. DUI/OVI defense is a very technical and complicated field of law. Attorney David Johnson is an experienced DUI/OVI attorney who will discuss your case, assist you in preparing a strong defense, and vigorously defend you against the DUI/OVI charge.