Interviewer: What does the walk-and-turn test consist of?
Kevin Roach: The walk-and-turn test is similar to the one-leg-stand. The walk-and-turn or the (WAT) is a divided-attention test. It's supposed to divide the driver's attention between the mental and the physical tasks. Before administering the walk-and-turn, the officer is supposed to ask the driver if he or she has any physical problems or disabilities.
Assuming the driver is eligible to perform the walk-and-turn test, the officer must then provide detailed instructions accompanied by demonstrations of each individual instruction. The driver must initially be told to stand with his or her right foot in front of the left foot, touching heel to toe, arms down to the sides, to remain in that position and to not start the test until told to. As you can see, it's a physical and mental thing. You have to remember what to do and you have to physically do it.
The instructional phase consists of the driver being told to take nine steps, heel to toe, on a designated line, and then when reaching the ninth step, the driver must leave his or her lead foot planted, take a series of small steps around to the left with his or her other foot, and then take nine steps heel to toe back down the designated line.
The Police Officer Must First Demonstrate The Test
The police officer must first demonstrate the test. Now, after the driver understands the instructions, he is then scored by the officer. As you can tell, it's confusing just keeping that straight even if you're sober. It seems like the test is confusing because you have to mentally remember what to do and then, physically, you have to have agility to walk and turn.
Just imagine: it's late at night, you're on the side of a road, the road is sloped, and there are cars zipping by – this would make the test very difficult to pass, even if one is completely sober. Most of the time, there are less than ideal circumstances like this. Most people get nervous when they are just pulled over for a routine traffic stop, let alone when it's late at night and you've got a couple of beers in you. Subsequently, you're going to be extremely nervous and the probability of you passing this test is pretty low.
Interviewer: Do you think also that maybe the lights that are going by or the police officer’s patrol car lights may cause a distraction?
Kevin Roach: Absolutely. Between the officer’s lights, the traffic driving by, and the pressure of the situation, there are a lot of distractions to cause large margins of error.
Kevin J. roach is a St. Louis DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!