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Walk and Turn Test | Chicago DUI Lawyer

The U.S. NHTSA has "standardized" the use of three roadside Field Sobriety Tests for use by DUI enforcement officers throughout the nation. Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorneys know that officers conduct these tests by the side of the road after you have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI to help them determine whether you're impaired by alcohol.The officers use these unscientific, subjective means to try and decide whether you have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%.
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Walk and Turn Test

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Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer: The Walk and Turn Test

The U.S. NHTSA has "standardized" the use of three roadside Field Sobriety Tests for use by DUI enforcement officers throughout the nation. Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorneys know that officers conduct these tests by the side of the road after you have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI to help them determine whether you're impaired by alcohol.

The officers use these unscientific, subjective means to try and decide whether you have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%. Your Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer reminds you that the three NHTSA-standardized Field Sobriety Tests are:

  • The Walk and Turn Test
  • The One Leg Stand Test
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN Test)

Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Describes How Officers Administer the Walk and Turn Test

Your Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorney can detail the overall process of the usual Walk and Turn Test that requires that you:

  • Stand heel-to-toe
  • Keep your arms down at your sides at all times
  • Listen to and follow the officer's instructions
  • Take  nine heel-to-toe steps along a given line, turn in the manner that the officer prescribes, and then take another nine heel-to-toe steps along the line
  • Count the steps aloud as you take them
  • Don't stop walking until the officer tells you to do so

Your Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorney knows that the usual order of instructions that the officer has been trained to give you follow this outline:

  1. Instructing you to place your left foot on the given line.
  2. Instructing you to then place your right foot on the line in front of your left, heel-to-toe.
  3. Demonstrating the proper heel-to-toe stance.
  4. Telling you to put your arms down at your sides and keep them that way throughout the entire test. The officer will usually demonstrate this for you.
  5. Having you remain in that stance while the officer gives you the rest of the instructions.
  6. Informing you not to start the test until you are specifically told to begin.
  7. Asking you if you understood these instructions and making sure that you indicate a "yes" response.
  8. Demonstrating proper heel-to-toe steps and telling you that each time you take a step, you must properly place your heel against the toe of the opposite foot.
  9. Instructing you that after the ninth heel-to-toe step, you must leave your front foot on the line and turn back around using a sequence of small steps with the other foot to go down the line again. The officer should demonstrate a proper turn for you.
  10. Reminding you that your nine steps back down the line must also use proper heel-to-toe motion.
  11. Reminding you to keep your arms down by your sides.
  12. The officer will tell you to keep your eyes on your feet at all times and count out your nine steps as you make them.
  13. Reminding you not to stop walking until the test is finished.
  14. Asking you again if you have understood these instructions and make sure of a "yes" response.
  15. Telling you to begin.
     

A Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer will caution that should you break out of the proper heel-to-toe stance while the officer is giving you these instructions, the officer is supposed to stop giving instructions until you have resumed the proper stance. The officer will note on the Walk and Turn Test evaluation form when you have failed to properly perform an aspect of the test.

For instance, if you should forget to look down at your feet at all times as told or if you forget to count out your steps aloud as you make them, your performance will be marked down. Your Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer reminds you that part of the test evaluates whether you seem focused on the task or you seem to have a problem with divided attention that might indicate alcohol impairment.

Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorney Michael Schmiege Explains how the Walk and Turn Test is Scored Against You

The officer who administers the Walk and Turn Test will be looking for one or more of eight possible indicators of impairment. Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorneys often learn these indicators of possible DUI impairment by heart. The eight indicators are:

  1. You lose your balance and break out of the prescribed heel-to-toe stance required by the test before you even begin the test.
  2. Instead of listening for the officer to say "begin" as instructed, you start the test too soon, perhaps while the officer is still demonstrating the proper stance and heel-to-toe steps.
  3. You stop walking or pause for several seconds during the test.
  4. You miss the required heel-to-toe positioning and leave more than a half-inch gap between your feet.
  5. You step your foot completely off of the given line for the Walk and Turn Test.
  6. You raise your arms more than six inches while walking. This indicates that you might be having trouble keeping your balance.
  7. You take the wrong number of steps along the line (you're required to take nine steps exactly).
  8. You turn improperly.
     

Your Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorney cautions you that the officer administering your Walk and Turn Test will take two or more indicators of impairment as evidence that you have a BAC level of more than 0.10%.

How do You Know if there were Problems with Your Walk and Turn Test that could Provide a Solid Defense to Your Chicago DUI Charge in Court?

You need to contact a knowledgeable and aggressive Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer like Michael P. Schmiege who will fight for your rights. Michael Schmiege has the experience with the various forms of Field Sobriety Tests, the controversy that surrounds their validity, and the errors that plague their administration and evaluation. His successful experience challenging DUI charges could enable him to review the circumstances of your test and determine if errors or poor administration procedures give you a valid basis for challenging the results of the test.

For instance, the officer is told to administer the test on a hard, dry, non-slip and level surface and provide a given straight line to be walked. Your Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer emphasizes that these initial precautions are supposed to ensure that your missteps on the test result from alcohol impairment and not from inadequate testing conditions. In addition, the officer is supposed to allow anyone wearing heels two inches tall or higher to take their shoes off before beginning the test.

And just as with the One Leg Stand Test, the officer should know that research has revealed that people 65 and older, drivers more than 50 pounds overweight, and anyone with back, leg, or inner ear problems will tend to perform poorly on the Walk and Turn Test. In such cases, Illinois Field Sobriety Test Attorneys know that the officer should choose a more appropriate Field Sobriety Test or arrange for a chemical test.

If the officer failed to observe any of the above-mentioned precautions in administering your Walk and Turn Test, you might have a strong defense to your DUI Charge. Contact experienced Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Michael P. Schmiege for a free case evaluation consultation that could help you understand your available defenses and alternatives in your DUI charge.

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