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Walk and Turn Test for DWI Arrests

The “walk and turn” test is one of the three main tests in the battery of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests set forth by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration for DWI detection. Officers rely heavily on the walk and turn test when determining whether to charge a person with DWI. If you have been arrested for DWI, your ability to understand and follow the officer’s instructions on how to perform the test is critical.

Right from the start, the officer will mark in his notes whether or not you: 

1.) Started the test too early without waiting for you to follow his instructions.

2.) Got into stance correctly by placed your right foot directly in front of your left foot on the designated line.

3.) Placed your arms at your side.

4.) Swayed or struggling getting into or maintaining that position.

The officer will instruct you to take 9 steps forward, heel to toe, turn by taking a small series of steps while keeping your front foot on the line, and then take 9 steps back to the original starting spot. The officer should also demonstrate this test for you before you are asked to perform.

The following are clues the officer will look for during the performance of the test:

1.) Stepped off the line

2.) Didn’t step heel to toe

3.) Used arms to balance

4.) Stopped or paused during the test.

5.) Took the improper number of steps.

6.) Improper Turn

The two other clues I mentioned during the instruction phase (starts too soon, loses balance) make up the 8 total clues that the officer will mark down on his Driving While Impaired Report and testify to in court. These tests must be instructed and observed according to strict standards set forth in the NHTSA DWI Detection and Enforcement Student Manual. Raleigh DWI Attorney Matthew Golden owns a copy of this manual that law enforcement officers are trained with. Matthew uses the actual manual in court during cross examination of officers that arrest individuals for driving while impaired. Often, officers do not follow the proper procedure and protocol for instructing and conducting the walk and turn test. If you are charged with DWI in North Carolina, it is important that you hire an attorney who will contest the walk and turn test in court. Contact Matthew Golden today for a free consultation.