Walk and Turn Test / One Leg Stand Test

Walk and Turn Test

The walk and turn test is a divided attention test with two stages: (1) the instruction stage and (2) the walking stage.

During the instruction stage drivers must stand with feet in a heel-to-toe position, keep arms to their sides, and listen to the instructions. This requires drivers to divide their attention between balancing and processing information.

During the walking stage drivers must take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn in the prescribed manner, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. Drivers must count their steps out loud while watching their feet. Drivers must also turn by keeping their front foot on the line and use their other foot to take several small steps to complete the turn. This requires drivers to divide their attention between balancing, counting out loud, and using short term memory to recall the number of steps and turning instruction.

The officer looks for a total of eight clues: (1) failing to balance during instructions; (2) starting too soon; (3) stopping while walking; (4) failing to touch heel-to-toe; (5) stepping off the line; (6) using arms to balance; (7)losing balance on the turn or turning incorrectly; and (8) taking the wrong number of steps. According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) two or more clues has correlation with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more. NHTSA believes the walk and turn test is 68% accurate. However, the NHTSA studies have never been peer reviewed.

The officer should not be permitted to claim that two or more clues means the driver has a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more pursuant to the same principles set forth in Baity. The tests can also be attacked. The driver is not informed what he or she is being tested on. Officers may use a line that is either real or imaginary. Things other than alcohol may affect coordination. The officer’s instructions may be inaccurate. The officer’s observations may be inaccurate. A given individual’s coordination or athletic ability may have little bearing on the amount of alcohol or THC consumed. Expert testimony may also undermine the weight that should be given to the test performance.

One Leg Stand Test

The one leg stand test is another divided attention test that consists of two stages: (1) the instruction stage and (2) the balance and counting stage.

During the instruction stage drivers must stand with their feet together, keep arms at their sides, and listen to instructions. This divides the driver’s attention between balancing and processing the instructions.

During the balance and counting stage, drivers must raise one leg with their foot approximately six inches off the ground and keep their foot parallel to the ground. While looking at the raised foot, drivers must count “one thousand and one,” “one thousand and two,” “one thousand and three” until told to stop. This divides the driver’s attention between balancing and counting out loud.

NHTSA believes impaired drivers are able to stand on one leg for up to 25 seconds but cannot do so for 30 seconds. Officers are trained to look for four clues: (1) swaying while balancing; (2) using arms for balance; (3) hopping; and (4) putting the raised foot down. According to research conducted by NHTSA two or more clues has correlation with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more. NHTSA believes the one leg stand test is 65% accurate. Again, the NHTSA studies have never been peer reviewed.

The officer should not be permitted to claim that two or more clues means the driver has a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more pursuant to the same principles set forth in Baity. The tests can also be attacked. The driver is not informed what he or she is being tested on. Reasons other than drugs and alcohol may affect one’s ability to perform this test. The officer’s instructions may be inaccurate. The officer’s observations may be inaccurate. A given individual’s coordination or athletic ability may have little bearing on the amount of alcohol or THC consumed. Expert testimony may also undermine the weight that should be given to the test performance.

Contact the DUI defense attorneys at Platt & Buescher today to talk about resolving your DUI charge. The DUI attorneys at Platt & Buescher serve Oak Harbor, Island County, Bellingham, Burlington, Mt. Vernon, Whatcom County, Skagit County, Seattle, King County, and greater western Washington.