Performing the Walk & Turn on an Imaginary Line
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has standardized three field sobriety tests for use in the investigation of suspected DUI cases, one of them being the “walk & turn” test. The subject of this test is expected to walk 9 paces along a straight line, turn, and return to the point they began.
While field sobriety tests are a useful tool to help officers identify intoxicated drivers, they are by no means infallible. When appropriately administered, the walk and turn test only correctly identifies an intoxicated person 70% of the time, and this number decreases in the shockingly common cases in which the officer requires the subject to walk an “imaginary” line, in direct conflict with NHTSA guidelines.
The Myth of the Imaginary Line
Many officers incorrectly believe that the walk and turn test does not require an actual line in order to be properly administered, and will incorrectly identify suspects as intoxicated based on their poor performance in a non-standard version of the NHTSA approved test. According to the handbook provided to all officers, the walk and turn test requires the following:
- A straight line designated for the test
- A surface which is dry, hard, level, and non-slippery
If the officer fails to administer the test correctly, it will be up to your attorney to set the record straight and effectively demonstrate to a jury the error. Depending upon other issues in your case, this may be sufficient to significantly deflate the prosecution’s case.
If you are facing DUI charges on the strength of an improperly administered field sobriety test, a skilled Oceanside DUI attorney of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, can help to clear your name of unjust accusations. Contact us today by calling 760-722-7646 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.