What is a Walk-and-Turn Test in Loveland, Fort Collins, and Greeley?

The walk-and-turn test is a standardized field sobriety test that is typically used by Loveland, Fort Collins, and Greeley police officers to determine whether a driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How is the Walk-and-Turn Test Administered?

The walk-and-turn test typically involves a participant walking in a straight line, heel-to-toe, for approximately nine steps with the participant’s arms at their side. The driver is then ordered to turn around and walk back to the original starting point in the same heel-to-toe manner.

Walk-and-Turn Test Clues of Impairment

Law enforcement officers typically look for several different clues while conducting the walk-and-turn test and typically give a point for each clue observed during the test. The several clues of impairment in a walk-and-turn test include:

  • Lack of balance while following instructions
  • Beginning before the end of the instructions
  • Pausing to regain balance
  • Failing to touch heel-to-toe while walking
  • Stepping off of the straight line
  • Raising or moving arms to maintain balance
  • Losing balance while turning around
  • Taking more or fewer steps than instructed to take
  • Failing to perform the test

The officer conducting the test often provides multiple opportunities for a driver to complete the test to further observe the clues of impairment and help bolster her report with additional comments on any mistakes a suspect makes.

Problems with the Walk-and-Turn Test in Colorado

Unfortunately, the commonly used walk-and-turn test is not a very reliable test for determining intoxication, which could result in inaccurate DUI/DWAI charges. The unreliability of the walk-and-turn test often relates to the test itself and the individual participating in the test.

Suitable Conditions

For example, the walk-and-turn test is often given wherever the driver was stopped, so the test may not be conducted on a level, dry, hard, or non-slippery area. Unsuitable ground conditions could threaten the reliability of a walk-and-turn test, especially if it is the sole test conducted by a police officer.

Factors Affecting the Driver

Additional factors could relate to the person undergoing the walk-and-turn test that might prevent reliable test results. One of the common factors is a physical or mental disability or medical problem that prevents the driver from performing the walk-and-turn test as strictly instructed. The Loveland police officer will then imply impairment in her report.

Furthermore, the driver might be distracted while performing the test by vehicles driving by, the officer moving around while examining the driver, or loud noises while on the roadside.

Another common factor is clothing or footwear that prevents easy movements. If a driver is wearing footwear that makes it hard to perform the walk-and-turn test, such as high heels, the results could be unreliable. Unsuitable clothing, such as excessively tight or baggy pants, could also inhibit an individual’s ability to complete the walk-and-turn test as instructed.

How a DUI/DWAI Attorney Can Help You

As an experienced DUI/DWAI attorney, Sean P. Harrell understands how problems with the administration of the walk-and-turn test by a Fort Collins police officer could be used to discount the validity of the test.

Reasonable doubt in the accuracy of an officer’s observations based on a rigid test that is impractical for most drivers to complete can be an effective defense against a DUI/DWAI conviction. Call The Harrell Law Firm, PLLC today at 970-791-2006 to schedule a Free Initial Consultation.