Maryland Walk-and-Turn Test

In the state of Maryland, being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) can affect all aspects of your life. This is especially true if you are convicted of a drunk driving offense in criminal court. In addition to having to pay a significant fine, you may also end up losing your driver’s license and, in some cases, spending time in jail. In Maryland, when you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, a police officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests as a means to detect whether or not you are impaired. There are three tests that are part of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of them being the walk-and-turn test. Unfortunately, if you are deemed to have failed the walk-and-turn test, you may be arrested for drunk driving. That is why it is important to have a skilled DUI attorney by your side who can fight to protect your rights and mitigate the negative impact a conviction might have on your life.

Performing the Walk-and-Turn Test in Maryland

The walk-and-turn test is the most commonly administered sobriety test by law enforcement officers when an individual is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. The other two tests that officers use are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and the one-leg stand test. While the walk-and-turn test was originally designed to help a police officer evaluate the balance and coordination of a driver, it is far from being 100 percent reliable due to the fact that it is extremely subjective.

The walk-and-turn test is performed by taking nine steps forward in a heel-to-toe manner, pivoting, and then walking nine steps back in the opposite direction to the original start position. As you are performing the test, you must also count your steps aloud. If you lose your balance, stumble, or are not able to finish the test entirely, then you may be arrested and officially charged with a DUI. When you take a walk-and-turn test, the officer will be looking for eight things:

  • Inability to balance while listening to instructions;
  • Taking an incorrect number of steps;
  • Beginning before they are instructed to do so;
  • Stopping to regain balance;
  • Being more than half of an inch off in the heel-to-toe stance for any step;
  • Stepping off of the straight line;
  • Raising arms away from sides to balance; and
  • Improperly turning;

If you show two or more of the eight signs, it is used as an indication that you are, in fact, impaired. However, even in instances when you fail the walk-and-turn test, you may not truly be impaired. People who are overweight, have balance issues, or suffer from other types of medical issues may be unable to properly finish the test. The test results may also be affected by the shoes that are being worn, as well as the weather and road conditions.

Challenging Walk-and-Turn Test Results

Due to the subjectivity of the test, there are many ways for drivers to challenge the walk-and-turn test results and thus eliminate the penalties that are associated with a DUI conviction. Medical conditions as well as environmental factors may cause issues with this test, which is why it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney if you are facing DUI charges based on the walk-and-turn field sobriety test results. If you do have the court case proved in your favor, all records of the arrest and incident will be expunged. However, without the help of a well-qualified defense attorney, chances are you will not have the best possible outcome for your particular situation. If you are ever facing DUI charges in the state of Maryland based on the results of a walk-and-turn test, it is essential that you discuss your options with a criminal defense attorney.

Talk to a Qualified DUI Attorney

Experienced attorneys understand defending individuals who have been accused of drunk driving-related offenses. They are knowledgeable in how to challenge field sobriety test results, as well as making sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. If you have been charged, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local practicing lawyer who will fight for you.