The Walk and Turn test is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests administered when an officer believes that an individual is driving while under the influence (DUI). It is an objective test that is based upon what have been deemed by NHTSA to be specific predictable errors that an intoxicated individual will display as well as certain scoring factors that an officer needs to utilize in determining passing and failing.
The test is often referred to as a divided attention test as it divides a California DUI suspect’s attention between mental and physical tasks. The mental tasks include understanding verbal instructions, processing information, and memory recall. The physical tasks include balance and coordination of the suspected California DUI offender. The test is supposed to be administered on a hard, dry, non-slipping, and level surface with enough room for the DUI suspect to complete nine heel-to-toe steps. Otherwise, the test loses some of its validity.
In administering the test, the officer will ask the DUI suspect to take nine steps along a straight line while walking heel-to-toe. After taking these steps, the officer then asks the DUI suspect to turn on one foot and return walking back in the same manner. The California Drunk Driving suspect is advised to keep his or her arms at his or her side, while counting out loud. While the DUI suspect is performing the test, the officer will look for seven indicators of impairment from about three to four feet away. These indicators are: (1) losing one’s balance while listening to instructions, (2) starting the test before instructions are completed, (3) stopping to regain balance during the test, (4) not walking heel-to-toe, (5) using one’s arms to balance, (6) losing one’s balance while turning, and (7) taking an incorrect number of steps.