Of the three standardized field sobriety tests developed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the Walk and Turn Test is possible the most difficult to pass. This test requires more instruction and more physical capabilities than the One Leg Stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
Police use this field sobriety test to prove their suspicions that a driver is operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is known to affect driver's reaction times, motor skills and ability to follow instructions. The Walk and Turn Test is designed to test balance, listening ability and reaction time.
However, there are many conditions that police must adhere to in order to provide a safe and accurate testing site. The Walk and Turn test should be given on a hard, flat and dry surface. If the test is given on a slippery surface, on a hill or on a curve, a sober person could not probably even complete the test. Police also should not give you the Walk and Turn test if you are 65 years or older, more than 50 pounds overweight or have a physical impairment.
What happens during the walk and turn test?
First, the officer must explain and demonstrate the test, so you know what to expect. Following the line in the road or an imaginary line, you must walk straight and take nine heel-to-toe steps. You cannot use your arms for balance. You must also count out loud, pivot then walk back in the same manner. If you miss a step or stop altogether, this can count as a point against your score.
While you are taking the test, the officer will be observing your performance and your ability to follow their direction. There are six different ways you can be given a point and if the officer observes you doing at least of these actions, the officer now has probable cause to arrest you for OUI.
One of the major problems with the Walk and Turn test is its amount of subjectivity. Perhaps the officer thought they observed your heel not touching your toe, when in fact it was. If you failed this test and were arrested for OUI, your attorney will carefully scrutinize the points against you.