After consuming alcohol, you’re cognitive and physical abilities begin to diminish. Because of this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed two tests that measure your ability to follow directions and perform a simple physical activity—the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn. While those in the scientific community dispute the validity of these tests, your performance can be used as evidence that you were under the influence during a Wisconsin operating while intoxicated (OWI) arrest.
The walk-and-turn test consists of two stages: instruction and performance. In the instruction phase, you will be asked to stand in a certain manner while the officer explains—and then demonstrates—how you will perform the test. Once he or she has gone over the directions, the officer will then ask if you understand before instructing you to proceed.
To perform the walk-and-turn test, you will take nine steps in a heel-to-toe manner on a real or imaginary straight line. After the ninth step, you will turn on one foot and then walk back in the same way.
While you are completing this test, the officer will watch for seven “clues” that you may be impaired. These include: having problems balancing during the instruction stage, walking before the officer instructs you to begin, stopping during the test to regain your balance, failing to walk in a heel-to-toe manner, using your arms to balance, losing your balance during the turn, and taking the incorrect number of steps. If the officer believes he sees two or more clues, you will meet the criteria for a drunk-driving arrest.
A number of potential defenses can be used to challenge your score on the walk-and-turn test. To ensure the results are accurate, the officer must clearly explain the instructions and administer the test on hard, dry, level ground. Failing to follow the proper procedures could give your attorney a reason to question your test results.
Certain people should also be excluded from the walk-and-turn test. Those over the age of 65, more than 50 pounds overweight, or who have certain physical handicaps may be able to challenge their field sobriety test score.
At Tracey Wood & Associates, we are very familiar with the tests used to evaluate intoxication, and have helped a number of clients successfully beat their charges due to flawed testing. To learn whether challenging your field sobriety tests is possible, please complete our online form now for an analysis of your OWI charges.