Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test in Atlanta
The Walk and Turn test (WAT) is one of the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) developed with from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Atlanta police, State Patrol, as well as law enforcement across the country use these tests to help determine whether a driver will be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
Law enforcement officers are trained in the proper administration of the Walk and Turn test, as well as other SFSTs. The police are trained to give very specific instructions and specific criteria to watch and record in order to benefit from the standardization of properly administered tests. However, like all field sobriety tests, even when law enforcement properly administers all instructions, there is a significant error rate with the Walk and Turn test which can result in a driver being noted as intoxicated even if they are sober.
The Walk and Turn field sobriety test in Georgia consists of a person walking heel to toe, straight, along a single file line for nine steps. After nine steps, the person turns around on one foot, and returns to the starting position repeating the nine, heel to toe steps.
Pass or Fail the Walk and Test
The Walk and Turn test is known as a “divided attention” test, just like the One Leg Stand test, which requires the driver to simultaneously perform mental and physical functions. With this test, the driver is required to balance while walking heel to toe, and at the same time count their number of steps, without taking too many, or too few.
During the test process, law enforcement is looking for eight specific signs of impairment, giving the driver an overall score. These signs include unable to maintain balance, starting too early, stopping too early, not walking heel to toe, taking the wrong number of steps, not turning around properly, stepping off the line, or using the arms to regain balance. If a suspect scores two or more of these signs during they test, they are classified as under the influence (over 0.08 percent BAC in Georgia).
You Can Refuse All Field Sobriety Tests
In the State of Georgia, you have the right to decline all field sobriety tests, including the Walk and Turn test. If a driver agrees to perform the field sobriety tests, their test results can be used against a defendant for a court conviction for driving under the influence. If a driver wishes to decline to perform these field sobriety tests, they need only politely tell the police that they have been advised by their lawyer to decline all field sobriety tests. It is also advisable to carry the phone number of your Atlanta DUI defense attorney in the event that you are ever arrested.
Problems With the Field Sobriety Test
There are many issues which affect the reliability of the Walk and Turn test. First, an officer may give the wrong directions, or fail to properly score the test, which could result in a DUI arrest. Additionally, other people could find the test difficult to perform due to health conditions including obesity, back pain, or balance issues. The environment where the test is completed could also negatively impact the results, including uneven ground, poor lighting, or distractions from flashing lights and headlights.
Experienced Atlanta DUI Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI or alcohol related offense anywhere in the Metro Atlanta area, call a local DUI defense lawyer who understands field sobriety testing. I am certified as an instructor to teach law enforcement how to administer field sobriety tests, the very tests they perform on the roadside for a DUI. I will use my knowledge of field sobriety testing to have your charges reduced or even dismissed. An arrest for a DUI is not the same as a conviction. Call my office anytime day or night to fight the charges against you.