What is a walk and turn test?

Anyone who is accused by Texas law enforcement of driving under the influence of alcohol should be aware of how the prosecution will attempt to prove their case. If you find yourself in such a situation, chances are the police had administered a field sobriety test at the time they pulled you over. One of these tests is known as the walk and turn test.

According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, the walk and turn test is a simple test conducted by a police officer. At first, the officer will provide instruction on how to perform the test, after which the officer will confirm that you understood what the officer had just said. The test will then commence. A walk and turn entails taking nine steps forward and nine steps back, taking steps from heel to toe on an actual or a fictitious straight line while counting each step.

As a person walks, the police officer will examine the performance of the individual for signs that the person’s blood alcohol content is at or higher than .10 percent. There are many ways an officer may judge whether a performance indicates alcohol influence, such as:

  • not taking the right number of steps
  • having to use arms to keep balance
  • not walking heel to toe
  • failing to walk in a straight line
  • stopping prematurely before finishing the test

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautions that walk and turn tests are accurate only up to a 66 percent rate, and that is when the test is conducted under the right guidelines. Since walk and turn tests are not infallible, you and your legal counsel can contest the test as inaccurate if it is presented as evidence against you.

Be aware that this article is written to educate readers on criminal defense topics and does not provide legal advice.