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Criticism of the walk-and-turn field sobriety test

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense, DWI & Alcohol |

When someone is pulled over due to suspicion that they are driving while under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask them to do a walk-and-turn field sobriety test. Though this is a controversial test, it’s still used at times in Texas.

What the walk-and-turn test entails

You may already know about the walk-and-turn test. But just in case you do not, we will explain. This test can be administered when an officer pulls you over and thinks you may be driving while intoxicated.

First, the officer will ask you to stand with your feet heel-to-toe and your arms at your sides while they give you instructions. You must walk nine steps forward on a real or imaginary line with your feet heel-to-toe, keeping your arms to the sides and counting off your steps. Then, you pivot and do the same in the other direction.

This test is used to let the officer look for indicators that you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level that’s .10 percent or higher. They will check to see if you are using your arms for balance, not walking heel-to-toe, or starting before the officer gives the full instruction, among other things.

The walk-and-turn field sobriety test doesn’t always work

The walk-and-turn test isn’t the greatest way to determine if someone is guilty of drunk driving while above the legal BAC level. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that this test only has an accuracy rate of 66 percent. The percentage is even lower when they consider that the test isn’t always performed to the guidelines.

If you’ve been given a walk-and-turn field sobriety test and you fail it, this doesn’t mean you will immediately have a DWI put on your record. You can stand up against the results in court. The law may just be on your side when it comes to the field sobriety test results and the facts behind the test administration.