As discussed in an earlier entry, there are three types of standardized field sobriety tests. They are the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. Today I would like to explain the walk-and-turn test.
The walk-and-turn test is categorized as a divided attention test. This means that you must listen to and follow instructions while performing a physical task. The theory is that the test is easy for a sober person to perform, but more difficult for a person who is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to perform.
To administer the test, the police officer will first place you into an awkward stance, which you are expected to remain in for a prolonged period of time while listening to the officer’s directions.
To perform the test, you must take nine heel-to-toe steps forward, pivot, and then take nine heel-to-toe steps back. While performing this test, you are asked to count out loud the number of steps that you have taken.
During the test, the police officer is looking for signs that you are under the influence. These signs are missing steps, taking an incorrect number of steps, having difficulty maintaining balance, turning incorrectly, and failing to count your steps out loud. If you have to use your arms to balance or you do not complete the test, the officer will count this as a failure to perform the test adequately.
If you missed two of these criteria, you may be arrested.
The main problem with this test is that it is subjective. The officer decides whether or not you pass the test. If you have been pulled over because the officer suspects that you are intoxicated, it seems highly unlikely that you will perform the test to his or her ultimate satisfaction.
There are also physical problems that may hinder your performance. Weight issues, leg problems, and fatigue can make it difficult to pass this field sobriety test. A good defense attorney will bring these issues up during a DUI case.
With all of the problems surrounding the walk-and-turn test, do you think it should be used as a measure of intoxication?