Field Sobriety Test – Walk & Turn

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On October 1, 2017

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Everyone has heard of the roadside field sobriety test.  Commonly referred to as FST’s, these are the tests police use to evaluate a person and gather evidence to prove their sobriety.  From a citizen’s perspective, I think we would all like these tests to be a fair and accurate.  There would be no confusion in determining if someone’s had too much to drink with simple, straightforward standards.

The truth is, I often see people with very low breath test results fail different field sobriety tests.  Sometimes their failure is a result of their fear, and other times it’s due to nervousness.  To make matters worse, they didn’t fully understand the directions or know how they were actually being graded.  It’s unfortunate for those who fail a field sobriety test, but confusion and poor performance happen regularly.

The Walk and Turn Test is a good example—this is the field sobriety test that most folks refer to as the “walk the line” test.  If you decided to survey a group of people, most think the main purpose of the test is to maintain your balance while walking on a line. In reality, keeping your balance is just one of eight different things a person is graded on. Other “clues” or things an officer looks for include things such as:

  • starting the test before you are told to begin
  • not touching your heel and toe on any step
  • not raising your arms more than six inches from your sides at any point

As surprising as it may be, many people actually fail this test before they even take their first step.

I hope you never find yourself in this situation, but if you do, listen closely to the directions an officer gives and ask questions if you don’t understand—understanding what the officers are actually looking for could make a very big difference in how your day ends.  For more information about field sobriety tests, click here.

 

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