Walk and Turn

Seasoned DUI Defense Attorneys in Franklin, Brentwood and Columbia Explain the Walk and Turn Test

Learn more about Tennessee filed sobriety tests

If you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI – either while you’re out driving or because you entered a checkpoint – you may be asked by the law enforcement officer to step out of the car and take a series of field sobriety tests. Though you have the legal right to refuse these tests, most people believe that they have to comply; next thing they know, they are being shuffled off into the back of a police car for a ride down to the station.

For the last 30 years, the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates has been there to defend the rights of those accused of driving drunk or under the influence of drugs. We have successfully represented clients in Franklin, Brentwood, Columbia, and throughout Tennessee who faced losing their license, thousands of dollars in fines and potential jail time if convicted. We want you to know what your rights are when it comes to field sobriety tests, and to know that you can contact our DUI defense attorneys 24 hours a day if those rights have been violated in any way.

What is the Walk and Turn test?

If you are pulled over for DUI and consent to perform the field sobriety tests, you will first be asked to complete the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. Once that is completed, the officer may ask you to complete a One Leg Stand test (OLS) or the Walk and Turn test (WAT). The WAT is simple: you must walk a straight line, heel-to-toe, for a total of 9 steps away from the officer. Then, you are to turn around and repeat the test, this time walking towards the officer.

What do police look for in a WAT sobriety test?

There are eight factors, or “clues,” that will indicate whether or not an individual is driving while under the influence. Those clues are:

  • Being unable to keep your balance during the instructions
  • Beginning the test too soon
  • Stopping while mid-test
  • Missing the heel-to-toe connection
  • Stepping off the line, if there is a line available
  • Using your arms for balance
  • Taking the wrong number of steps
  • Making an improper turn

The officer will base his or her assessment of whether or not you are drunk or impaired on these clues. According to AAA, “A 1998 validation study found that 79 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more indicators in the performance of the test will have a BAC of 0.08 or greater.”

The WAT sobriety test can be defeated in court

There are a number of outside factors which may affect a person’s ability to perform this test successfully. Not everyone can walk a straight line even while they are sober, and not all roadways have lines which are safe to walk. An officer cannot administer a test in the middle of the road, so there may be no way to prove you were unable to walk the line. Even the condition of the road could contribute to your ability to maintain your balance: a slipper walk, an incline or decline, high winds – even the height of the heels of your shoes: all of these can contribute to a “Failing” score for the WAT.

In order for the WAT to be effective, it must be administered in the same way, in ideal conditions, every time. If the arresting officer failed to give you the right instructions, asked you to perform the test in difficult or dangerous conditions, or made an illegal stop, our team of DUI defense lawyers in Franklin, Brentwood and Columbia know how to help. We understand the laws that govern both traffic stops and DUI arrests, and we will work with you to ensure that you get the aggressive, professional counsel and representation you need.

If you were arrested after a WAT field sobriety test, contact our DUI defense lawyers now

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we provide skilled representation and practice guidance for clients in Franklin, Brentwood, Columbia and beyond. Our DUI defense attorneys have the experience and resources you want on your side. If you were arrested after taking a field sobriety test like the Walk and Turn, please call 615-977-9370 or fill out our contact form. We are proud to help people in Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, Lawrenceburg and Pulaski, Tennessee, and in the surrounding areas.