THE WALK AND TURN FIELD SOBRIETY TEST
This is one of the DWI balance tests used in the standardized field sobriety tests. It has two stages: the instruction stage and the walking stage. During both stages, the officer is looking for specific “clues” of intoxication. If the officer believes he sees two or more clues, at any time during the test, you will fail the test and be arrested for DWI.
THE INSTRUCTION STAGE:
The officer will instruct you to:
He will then give you following instructions for the test, demonstrating parts of the test while he talks:
Problem: You Don’t Know You Are Already Being Graded
What most people do not know is that, even though this is the instruction stage, you are already being graded. The test has already begun and the officer is already looking for two specific mistakes:
Either of these mistakes would be considered a clue. If you do them both, just once, you have failed the test even if you do everything else perfectly. To make things worse, you have been told to keep your arms at your side – which makes balancing even more difficult.
THE WALKING STAGE:
During the walking stage, the officer is looking for 6 clues:
If you do any of these things, even one time, it will be considered a clue. So suppose you missed your heel to toe one time and you raised your arms one time for balance for a split second, you have just failed the test.
Problem: Unfair Grading Scale
When you calculate all the possible mistakes for each phase of the test, you see how unfair this test really is:
There are at least 93 possible times you could make a mistake on this test. But you fail if you have two small clues. Scoring a 91 out of 93 will get you arrested for DWI in San Antonio, Texas. That’s not a fair grading scale.
When defending people accused of DWI, it is important to demonstrate to the jury just how unfair the walk and turn test really is. If you have questions about your performance on the standardized field sobriety tests, feel free to call me. I help people facing DWI charges every day.