Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test is probably the most well known of the standardized field sobriety tests.  The walk and turn involves the suspect taking nine steps in a straight line, then pivoting and taking nine steps back along the same line.  There are numerous factors that the officer is looking for when determining whether somebody has either passed or failed this test.  The specific requirements are:

  • can't balance during instructions;
  • starts too soon;
  • stops while walking;
  • doesn't touch heel to toe;
  • steps off line;
  • uses arms to balance;
  • loses balance on turn or turns incorrectly;
  • takes the wrong number of steps.

Many times, people actually pass this test when officers indicate test failure in their reports.  Further, just because somebody wasn't able to perform the walk and turn doesn't necessarily mean that they are intoxicated.  Officers will generally testify that many people will fail this test no matter whether they have consumed alcohol or not.  Further, many times the officer doesn't know how to properly administer the test and sometimes they even require different conditions that make the test more difficult, such as counting out the steps.