Walk and Turn Test

In the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Southern California Research Institute (SCRI) collaborated to create the field sobriety tests that law enforcement agencies across the nation use to assess driver impairment. During DUI testing, officers were brought in to see if they could identify the participants that had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 percent or higher. Despite the results of these tests being underwhelming, many of the assessments-including the walk and turn test are still used today.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, a skilled Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to have your charges dismissed or reduced. It may be possible, for example, to challenge the accuracy of the field sobriety tests that were administered at the time of your arrest. At O’Meara Law, we know that people are often falsely and sometimes illegally arrested on DUI charges. With over 20 years of experience, we are well positioned to give your case the best chance of success.

To find out more about how we can fight your DUI charges, call O’Meara Law at 312-909-0706 today.

What Is the Walk and Turn Test?

Simply put, the walk and turn test is a test that measures a person’s ability to multi-task. With a person who is not impaired by drugs or alcohol, multitasking is generally not a problem. For someone who is intoxicated, however, engaging in more than one task can be extremely difficult. As a divided attention test, this task involves following instructions while walking and turning in a straight line. To begin, the person taking the test is told to take nine steps in a straight line. When they are finished walking, they are told to turn on one foot and perform the same task in the opposite direction.

While the person is walking, the officer is looking out for the seven following signs of impairment:

  • The person’s ability to maintain balance while listening to instructions
  • Whether the person starts to walk before the instructions have been read
  • The number of times the person stops to regain their balance
  • Whether the person is actually walking in a heel-to-toe fashion
  • Whether the person is extending their arms to maintain balance
  • The person’s ability to maintain balance while turning
  • Whether the person takes the wrong number of steps

Walk and Turn Test Reliability

When the field sobriety tests were first developed, they had an abysmal error rate. The NHTSA claims that the initial real world success rate of these tests was 47 percent. This lead to the organization going back to the SCRI to make the tests more accurate. After the administration of the test was standardized, the error rates had decreased, but they’re still unacceptable. According to recent studies, the walk and turn test only successfully identifies intoxicated drivers 68 percent of the time. The unfortunate conclusion is that people are often falsely accused of driving under the influence based on inaccurate tests that were developed over 40 years ago.

Let Michael O’Meara Fight for You

If you have been falsely or unfairly accused of driving under the influence, you should fight your charges in court. If you plead guilty, you will face fines, possible jail time, a driver’s license suspension, increased insurance rates, and the collateral effects of having a permanent criminal record. On the other hand, if you choose to fight back against the system, your Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to win your case through any of the following strategies:

  • Disputing the accuracy of the field sobriety tests that were used during your arrest
  • Challenging the arresting officer’s training and administration of the test
  • Proving that the officer did not gain probable cause to arrest you from the field sobriety test results
  • Claiming that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place
  • Showing that you were the victim of an illegal vehicle search

Chicago DUI lawyer Michael O’Meara Law knows that these cases can be more complicated than they appear. With two decades of experience on both sides of the courtroom, attorney O’Meara can anticipate the prosecution’s strategy and craft a winning strategy for your case.

Call 312-909-0706 now to find out how O’Meara Law can help you.