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Traffic Law

Walk and Turn (WAT) DWI Field Sobreity Test

The Walk-and-Turn field sobriety test is a “divided attention” test that requires a DWI suspect to listen to and follow instructions while simultaneously performing physical movements. Impaired persons have difficulty with tasks requiring their attention to be divided between simple mental and physical exercises.

To perform the Walk-and-Turn test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The examiner looks for eight (8) indicators of impairment:

# the subject cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions,
# the subject begins before the instructions are finished,
# the subject stops while walking to regain balance,
# the subject does not touch heel-to-toe,
# the subject steps off the line,
# the subject uses arms to balance,
# the subject makes an improper turn, and
# the subject takes an incorrect number of steps.

NHTSA research indicates 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 (Stuster and Burns, 1998).