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What is the walk and turn test?

If you are like most people in Pennsylvania, you have seen plenty of movies or television shows in which a person is asked to perform different tests by a police officer in order to determine if the person was drunk while driving. Commonly referred to as field sobriety tests, there are three different tests that are standardized for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it is important to note that these tests do not and cannot prove that a driver is intoxicated. They can only indicate that a driver might be intoxicated.

One of the tests is called the walk and turn test. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, it requires the driver to take nine steps forward along a straight line, turn around and take nine steps back along the same line to the original starting position. A person may be deemed to have failed this test if they step off the line at any time, use their arms to help them maintain their balance or even pause momentarily. Steps must be taken in a heel-to-toe fashion.

The test is said to have an accuracy rate of only 66%. People who are overweight or who have problems with their legs, hips, backs or feet may have a hard time passing this test even if they have not been drinking alcohol. 

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in Pennsylvania an overview of one of the three standardized field sobriety tests used by law enforcement officers during a drunk driving investigation.

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