In most DUI investigations in the Nashville, Tennessee, area, the standardized field sobriety tests are used as an investigative tool. One specific test is the walk and turn test. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration manual on the procedures of the walk and turn testing requires that the suspect be placed in initial position and given verbal instructions as to the test. Then, the police officer must demonstrate and give further instructions for the test. The DUI officer is looking for 8 potential clues during the testing sequence. Here is a list of what the DUI officer is looking for.
- Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions.
- Starts the test before the instructions are finished.
- Stops walking.
- Does not touch heel to toe. (Note: This clue is only being recorded if the suspected leaves a space more than 1½ inch between each step.)
- Steps offline.
- Uses arm to balance. (Note: The suspect must raise one or both arms more than 6 inches from the sides in order to maintain balance.)
- Improper turn.
- Incorrect number of steps.
Based on original research, if the suspect exhibits two (2) or more clues on this test, or fails to complete the test a police officer may classify the suspect's blood alcohol concentration as above the legal limit. The literature indicates that the officer will be able to actively classify 68% of the suspects.
Possible Defenses to the Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test requires a designated straight line, and should be conducted on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface. There should be sufficient room for suspects to complete nine (9) heel to toe steps.
The original research indicated that individuals over 65 years of age, back, leg, or inner ear problems have difficulty performing this test. Further, individuals wearing heels more than 2 inches high should be given the opportunity to remove their shoes. The walk and turn test is a subjective test and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Of the eight (8) possible clues the officer is looking for, if you show 2 out of 8 you will fail the test and it is possible you will be charged with a DUI.
This information also applies to those charged with a DUI in Wilson County, Robertson County, Dickson County, Rutherford County, Sumner County, and Cheatham County.