When a person is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the law enforcement officer will ask him to submit to field sobriety tests. One particular test is the walk and turn test. Your Graham DUI defense lawyer will assist you in understanding how the test was meant to work and how its validity might be questioned at trial.
How the Test Is Administered
The officer will have the person stand heel-to-toe. The arms will be kept to the sides and the officer will instruct the individual how to proceed. Taking nine steps in a heel-to-toe manner, the person will walk a straight line, turn around as the officer describes and then repeat the process with nine more steps. While the suspect performs this task, the steps must be counted out loud with the arms still at the sides. The suspect must continue to walk through the end of the test. A Graham DUI defense attorney is familiar with the process of the walk and turn test and whether any errors were made.
Instructions for the Walk and Turn Test
The officer will instruct the driver to place the left foot on a designated line, then the right foot will be placed on the same line in front in heel-to-toe fashion. If this is not done properly, the officer will have made a mistake with the test that can be exploited at trial by your Graham DUI defense lawyer.
Next, the suspect will be instructed to place the arms to the sides and down. The arms must remain there for the entire test. The officer is supposed to demonstrate the proper way to get into position for this test. The suspect must stay in the position as the instructions are given. Emphasis must be placed on the suspect not starting to walk until the officer says to start the test. The officer must ask the suspect if the instructions are understood and the suspect must indicate yes or no.
If any of these instructions are not given, your Graham DUI defense attorney can point this out and it could be a reason for the test to be declared invalid.
When the suspect is in the correct position, the officer must tell the suspect that each step they take must have the heel placed against the opposite foot and then demonstrate the proper way to walk for the test. The suspect must then be informed that after taking nine steps, the foot must remain on the line and then the requirement is to turn by utilizing smaller steps with the back foot. The officer must demonstrate the correct way to turn. Your Graham DUI defense lawyer is experienced in DUI cases and will be able to find if a mistake was made during these instructions.
The officer will tell the suspect that following the turn, there must be nine more steps taken to return to the original line. The suspect must be informed that the feet must be watched constantly, the arms must remain at the sides and the steps counted aloud. Once the suspect begins to walk, there is no stopping before the test is finished.
The suspect must be asked and acknowledge that the instructions are understood before the officer will say to begin.
Other Instructions from the Officer
While these instructions must be given for the test to be valid, there are others that—if not given—will call the test into question and present the Graham DUI defense attorney with a reason to say the test instruction weren’t given properly.
While the suspect is in the heel-to-toe position at the outset of the test, if the suspect breaks the position, the officer should cease giving the test instructions until the suspect is back in the heel-to-toe position. The officer must tell the suspect that the nine steps will be taken, the turn made and then the nine steps made back.
Because the suspect has to look at the feet and count the number of steps out loud, the officer must watch that this is being done and if it isn’t, the officer is to remind the suspect to do so and make a notation that this happened on the evaluation form.
Contact an Experienced Graham DUI Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, it is imperative to have an experienced Graham DUI defense lawyer to protect your rights. Contact Greene & Lloyd PLLC at (253) 770-0808 today to discuss your case.