Walk and Turn Test

Walk and Turn Test

Field Sobriety Tests

Walk and Turn Test

The Walk and Turn exercise is designed to divide your attention to follow and remember instructions.  It is also used to evaluate the balance and coordination of the DUI suspect.  It is normally the second SFST administered.  The Walk and turn consists of two stages:

  • Instructions stage, and,
  • Walking stage

The NHTSA training manual states that “the Instructions Stage divides the subject's attention between a balancing task (standing while maintaining the heel to toe position) and an information processing task (listening to and remembering instructions).”

In the Instructions Stage, the subject must stand with their feet in a heel to toe position, keep their arms at their sides, and listen to the officer’s instructions.

In the Walking Stage the subject takes nine heel to toe steps, turns in a prescribed manner, takes nine heel to toe steps back, counts the steps out loud, and watches their feet. During the turn, the subject keeps their front foot on the line, turns in a prescribed manner, and uses the other foot to take several small steps to complete the turn. The Walking Stage divides the subject's attention among a balancing task (walking heel to toe and turning); a small muscle control task (counting out loud); and a short term memory task (recalling the number of steps and the turning instructions).  The walking stage divides the subject's attention between a task of listening,

comprehending and carrying out the instruction.

The Walk and Turn test is administered and interpreted in a standardized manner, the same way every time. The officer is supposed to evaluate your performance by how many "points" you accumulate against yourself, not his "opinion" of your performance. The more points, the worse your performance. Possible points on the Walk and Turn test:

  • Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions;
  • Starts too soon;
  • Stops while walking;
  • Does not touch heel to toe;
  • Steps off the line;
  • Uses arms to balance;
  • Improper turn; and,
  • Incorrect number of steps

Additionally, the inability to complete the Walk and Turn test may occur when the subject is in danger of falling or otherwise cannot complete the test.

Common Mistakes of Police:

  • Failure to demonstrate the maneuver to the driver;
  • Failure to verify that the driver comprehends the instructions;
  • Failure to provide the instructions as designated by their NHTSA training;
  • Failure to use the NHTSA point assessment method for scoring.


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