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What is the walk-and-turn field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Many Maryland drivers only think about whether they are able to walk in a perfectly straight line once they get pulled over. They fail to realize that there is more to the walk-and-turn test. This field sobriety test is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is used by law enforcement agencies around the nation and is more comprehensive than merely being able to walk straight.

When might you have to take a field sobriety test?

Police officers use the walk-and-turn field sobriety test as a way of determining probable cause to arrest someone for drunk driving. The officer must administer the test according to specific guidelines for greater accuracy. You’ll have to stand still while the officer explains the test and asks if you understand.

What happens during a field sobriety test?

You’ll need to walk heel-to-toe for nine steps along a line, turn, and take nine more steps in the other direction. While walking the line, which might be real or imaginary, you must keep your arms at your sides, count the steps out, and watch your feet.

Some of the things the officer will look for during your sobriety test include:

  • Taking the wrong number of steps
  • Incorrect turning
  • Using your arms for balance
  • Going off the line
  • Not walking heel-to-toe
  • Stopping while walking the line
  • Starting the test before the instructions are finished being given
  • Balance problems during the instructions

Any of these actions can be seen as proof of impairment. A DUI charge can result.

Can you contest a field sobriety test?

According to the NHTSA, walk-and-turn tests are only 66% accurate when appropriately administered. These tests can be challenged in court.

A DUI charge has consequences that can be stressful and costly. However, having substantial evidence to help you contest the results of the test can help you to successfully beat the charge and have a clear record.