DUI/DWI Walk-and-Turn Test

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walk and turn.bmpThe second test the officer will administer is the walk-and-turn test. The test conditions required are:

  • A designated straight line
  • A reasonably dry, hard, level, nonslippery surface
  • Sufficient room for the suspect to complete nine heel-to-toe steps

The subject is asked if they have a physical problems. Then the subject is instructed to stand with their left foot on the line, and to place their right foot directly in front of it, heel to toe. The suspect is instructed to hold that position while the officer gives instructions. Behavior during this period can be used to show impairment. One of the most common mistakes is beginning the test before instructed to do so. Like raising your hand in class before the teacher asks the question, this mistake is a clue of impairment. Before the test the officer will give the following instructions:

  • "When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back." (The officer should demonstrate three heel-to-toe steps.)
  • "When you turn, keep the front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot, like this." (The officer will demonstrate the most awkward turn, in court the judge can be convinced of the ridiculousness of this turn and this clue may be disregarded.)
  • "While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud." (What the officer does not say is that if a suspect raises their arms more than six inches from their side or leave a gap of more than one half inch between steps those will be checked off as clues of impairment.)
  • "Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the test."
  • "Do you understand the instructions?"
  • "Begin and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as 'One.'"

There are eight standardized clues for the walk-and -turn test. The include the following:

  1. Inability to maintain the instructional heel-to-toe stance
  2. Starting before the officer instructs to begin
  3. Missing heal to toe by more than one half inch on any step
  4. Stepping off the line
  5. Raising either arm six or more inches from the side
  6. Counting the wrong number of steps
  7. Stopping while walking
  8. Turning in a manner other than instructed

Judges are reasonable and are supposed to be objective. The walk-and-turn test is difficult to preform error free, while sober, under perfect conditions. Often this test is administered on busy highways, at night, with traffic flying by, and the suspect my be nervous and experiencing extreme anxiety. Some traffic stops are videoed. If a video tape exists your Maryland DWI attorney must obtain it through discovery. Often these videos show that the suspect did not perform the test as poorly as the police officer indicates, sometimes they don't. Any factor that compromises the individual's ability to perform the test, such as age, health, footwear, etc., should be conveyed to the judge by an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer.

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