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Walk and Turn Test

northcarolinawalkandturntestIf you were recently arrested for DWI in North Carolina and police asked you to take the walk-and-turn test, or heel-to-toe test, immediately contact defense attorney Bill Powers of the Law Offices of Powers McCartan. DWI defense attorney Bill Powers has dedicated substantial time and resources to representing clients charged with DWI and may be able to refute the evidence of your field sobriety test results including the walk and turn.

Since alcohol is a known depressant that slows down your body’s central nervous system, police use field sobriety tests like the walk and turn to determine if you are driving while impaired or otherwise intoxicated. The walk-and-turn test is standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because they believe it can be a reliable way for law enforcement officers to determine if a person is intoxicated. However, there are many things that can go wrong during the walk and turn that can affect your test results.

For starters, the police officer has to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for this test. People who are over 65 years old, overweight by more than 50 pounds or those who have physical handicaps should not to perform this test. If you can take this physical test, the officer should first demonstrate it for you so that you know what to do. He or she should also ensure that you perform the test on a flat, dry surface during reasonable weather conditions in a safe environment (away from traffic).

During the test, you will be asked to follow a line (either the white line on the shoulder of the road or an “imaginary” line if none exists). You are then supposed to walk nine steps heel to toe. Once you’ve counted out loud to the ninth step, you are requested to pivot and return in the same manner, heel to toe. You cannot use your arms for balance and if the officer notices you swaying, stumbling, missing a step or forgetting to count out loud, this can cause you to fail the test.

Walk and Turn (Sometimes called the “Heel to Toe” test)

  • Instruction stage – Left foot on line, right foot directly in front of left foot with heel touching toe
  • Do not move from this position until told to do so
  • Do you understand?
  • Walking Stage – When told to begin, take nine steps heel touching toe, when you reach your ninth step, leave your lead foot on the line and turn making a series of small steps, and then return nine steps heel to toe. While you are doing this, keep your hands at your side, watch your feet at all times, count out loud and don’t stop until you have completed the test.
  • Do you understand these directions?
  • Must miss heel to toe by ½” or more
  • Must raise one or more hands 6″ or more
  • There can be no more than 8 clues. Each clue may be observed multiple times, yet still count only as one “clue”
  • NHTSA “original research indicated that individuals over 65 years of age had difficulty performing this test.” Persons with back, leg or inner ear problems may have difficulty.
  • 2″ or greater heels should be removed

Walk and Turn “Clues” or “Cues”

  1. Can’t balance during instructions
  2. Starts too soon
  3. Stops
  4. Misses heel to toe by ½” or more
  5. Steps off line
  6. Uses arms for balance
  7. Turns incorrectly
  8. Wrong number of steps

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