Walk & Turn Field Sobriety Test
What is the walk and turn field sobriety test?
The Walk-and-Turn field sobriety test is a “divided attention” test that can be performed successfully by most unimpaired people. This sobriety test requires a suspect to listen and follow instructions while performing simple physical movements. Studies have shown that individuals who have been drinking or are impaired in some way have difficulty with tasks requiring their attention to be divided between simple mental and physical exercises.
In the Walk-and-Turn field sobriety test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the individual must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction.
The police officer looks for eight indicators of impairment:
- if the suspect cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions,
- begins before the instructions are finished,
- stops while walking to regain balance,
- does not touch heel-to-toe,
- steps off the line,
- uses arms to balance,
- makes an improper turn,
- takes an incorrect number of steps.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research indicates that 79 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more indicators in the performance of this standardized field sobriety test will have a BAC of 0.08 or greater (Stuster and Burns, 1998).