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Michigan Walk and Turn Test
Michigan law enforcement agents use three standardized field sobriety tests to determine if a DUI/OWI arrest can be made: the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus.
The standardized procedures for these tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These three field sobriety tests are used to establish probable cause to arrest a driver who is under suspicion of driving under the influence. If the driver fails these tests, it also gives support to the officer's decision to administer a breath test to measure the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Standardized field sobriety tests, including the walk and turn, are extremely unreliable. The reliability goes down even further if the tests are administered in less-than-ideal circumstances, such as on wet, slippery, or uneven ground.
There are two stages of the Michigan walk-and-turn test: the instruction stage and the performance stage.
During the instruction phase, the officer will ask you to stand with your left foot on the line, with your right foot in front and your arms by your side while listening to the test instructions. The officer will then ask if you understand the instructions.
After you tell the officer that you understood the instruction, he or she will explain how you should take your nine heel-to-toe steps, and will demonstrate how the test should be performed. During the walk-and-turn test, you must watch your feet, keep your arms at your side and count your steps aloud.
According to the NHTSA guidelines, there are eight clues that the police officer must watch for. If he or she observes two out of the eight clues, you will fail the test. The eight clues are: unable to balance during the instruction phase, starts the test too soon, stops walking, doesn't step heel to toe, steps off of the line, uses arms to balance, does not turn properly, or takes the wrong number of steps. If you are unable to perform the test, the officer will record the test results as if all of the clues were observed.
There are several common mistakes that police officers make when administering the walk-and-turn test. These include giving incorrect test instructions and/or asking the driver to count the wrong number of steps. Failing to give the correct instructions or to grade the test using the standardized scoring method makes this evidence unreliable.
If you have recently been arrested for DUI after failing the Michigan walk-and-turn test, contact the Law Offices of Patrick T. Barone today. This law firm is dedicated to defending the rights of those who have been accused of drinking and driving.
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