The Walk and Turn (“WAT”) is 1 of 3 field sobriety tests that have been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The first test given is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. The last two Utah field sobriety tests are the walk and turn and One Legged Stand.
Like the One Legged Stand, the Walk and Turn is divided into two phases. Instructions phase and Walking phase. Both the One Legged Stand and the Walk and Turn are divided attention testing where both mental and physical taskings are instructed at the same time.
A flat, non-slippery surface should be used where the subject can walk and turn 9 steps without obstruction.
“Place your left foot on the line.
“Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with the heel of your right foot against the toe
of the left foot.”
“Place your arms down at your sides.”
“Maintain this position until I have completed the instructions. Do not start to walk until told to do so.
Do you understand the instructions so far? (Make sure subject indicates understanding.)”
The officer then demonstrates the Walk and Turn.
See DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing—Participant Manual. Page 350/598.
“When I tell you to start, take nine heel‐to‐toe steps on the line, turn, and take nine heel‐to‐toe steps down the line.”
“When you turn, keep the front (lead) foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot, like this.”
“While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud.”
“Once you start walking, don’t stop until you have completed the test.”
“Do you understand the instructions?” “Begin.”
Clue 1. Starts too soon. The impaired person may also keep balance, but not listen to the instructions. Since you specifically instructed the subject not to start walking “until I tell you to begin,” record this clue if the subject does not wait.
Clue 2 Stops while walking. The subject stops while walking. Do not record this clue if the subject is merely walking slowly.
Clue 3. Does not touch heel‐to‐toe. The subject leaves a space of one-half inch or more between the heel and toe on any step.
Clue 4. Steps off the line. The subject steps so that one foot is entirely off the line.
Clue 5. Uses arms for balance. The subject raises one or both arms six or more inches from the sides in order to maintain balance.
Clue 6. Improper turn. The subject removes the front foot from the line while turning. Also record this clue if the subject has not followed directions as instructed, i.e., spins or pivots around or losesbalance while turning.
Clue 7. Incorrect number of steps. Record this clue if the subject takes more or fewer than nine steps in either direction.
2 Plus Clues == Fail of Walk and Turn. 2 or more clues on the Walk and Turn, combined with other field sobriety testing, can result you being arrested for driving under the influence.
(1). Medical. Orthopedic leg injuries or other bone muscle injuries will hamper the reliability of the walk and turn test. You should provide your attorney with medical record documentation regarding your injuries to contest the walk and turn’s test results.
(2). Use of Arms for Balance. For many people using their arms to balance is an everyday movement. Locking a person in, and eliminating natural arm movement for balance is counter intuitive, especially for older, people impaired with physical injuries.
If the DUI suspect has larger upper body musculature will cause his arms to flair more than the ordinary, non-athletic individual.
One walk and turn clue occurs when a DUI suspect’s arms raise greater than 6 inches from their waist. Officers are estimating on close calls, they do not have a mechanical measuring device capable of exact measurement. Calling into question the 6 inch rule.
(3). Ground Conditions. Ground conditions are always reviewed. Unstable, gravel does not help a person complete the walk and turn.
(4). Clothing and Shoes. Women’s tight clothing inhibits walking and turning. High heels shoes should be taken off prior to testing. Belts, pants, skirts all can impair the reliability of the walk and turn test results.
Are there other “non-standard” field sobriety tests in Utah? Yes.
The 3 standardized field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and one legged stand. There are other tests Utah law enforcement officers use to investigate driving under the influence cases.
Riding a unicycle uphill.
As you can see, the standard field sobriety tests are difficult in themselves for many people causing false positives to occur. Non-standard field sobriety testing are often less reliable.