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The Walk and Turn Test

The Walk and Turn Test

The Walk and Turn Test has two (2) phases.

The first phase is called the “instruction phase”.  During this phase the driver is required to balance heel-to-toe while the officer gives the instructions and demonstrates the test.

The second phase is called the “execution phase”.  During this phase the driver is required to take nine “heel-to-toe” steps on a straight line, pivot around, and take nine “heel-to-toe” steps back.

The Walk and Turn Test calls for a level ground, a hard, dry, non-slippery surface, and conditions under which the suspect is in no danger should he fall.  It is not designed for drivers age sixty five or older, fifty lbs overweight, or for drivers with leg injuries or inner ear disorders.

It requires a line that the driver can see and follow.  The driver must have adequate light and watch his feet, which supposedly makes it more difficult for impaired drivers to perform.

While administering the Walk and Turn Test the officer must:

(1)  Instruct the driver to place his left foot on the line.  The officer must then instruct the driver to place his right foot’s heel directly in front of his left foot’s toes so that the feet make a heel-to-toe connection.  For the sake of validity, the officer must demonstrate this stance.

(2)  Verify that the driver understands that the stance must be maintained while the instructions are given.

(3)  Halt the instructions if the driver breaks from the stance during the instructions until the driver resumes the stance.

(4)  Inform the driver not to begin until instructed.

(5)  Tell the driver that he will be required to take nine heel-to-toe steps down the delineated line, turn around, and take nine steps back down the same line.

(6)  Demonstrate how to perform two or three heel-to-toe steps and how to perform the turn.

(7)  Instruct the driver to keep both arms at his sides while watching his feet and counting the steps out loud.  Further, the officer must direct the driver not to stop walking until the test is completed.

(8)  Ask if the driver understands the directions.  If the driver indicates that he does not understand the directions, the officer must repeat only those directions the driver does not understand.

(9)  Tell the driver to begin and to count his first step from the heel-to-toe position as one.

(10)  Allow a driver who staggers, steps off the line, or stops while walking, the opportunity to resume from the point of interruption.  The officer is not allowed to have the driver repeat the test from the beginning because the test loses reliability if is repeated.

The Walk and Turn Test has eight (8) scoring clues, which the officer must score if the driver:

(1)  Loses balance during the instructions by breaking his feet from the heel-to-toe stance.

(2)  Starts walking before the instructions are completed and he is instructed to start.

(3)  Stops walking to steady himself.

(4)  Leaves more than one-half inch between his feet during any heel-to-toe step.

(5)  Steps off the line.  If this occurs three times the test is terminated and the officer must score it as if all eight clues were observed.  Additionally, the officer must score all eight clues if the driver cannot perform the test.

(6)  Raises one or both arms more than six inches from his side to maintain balance.

(7)  Turns improperly either by removing the front foot from the line while turning, removes both feet from the line, or clearly does not follow the directions as demonstrated.

(8)  Takes the wrong number of steps in either direction.

If the driver clearly exhibits two (2) or more of the eight (8) clues or cannot complete the test, the officer must determine that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above .10.  Additionally, officers are advised to note in their report how many times each clue appears, but count each clue only once for scoring purposes.