"Can you walk a straight line?"

The Walk and Turn is the field sobriety test that most people know about. However, walking a straight line is just one of EIGHT possible clues that Columbus Police look for when investigating you for DUI. Keep in mind that the line can be real or imaginary. The belief that you simply have to walk a straight line to pass this test is the reason that most people perform so awfully on this test. Always remember that the standardized field sobriety tests used to detect OVI are all about dividing your attention. A person impaired by drugs or alcohol will have much more difficulty processing multiple pieces of information at once. The following are the actual instructions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells law enforcement to give to a person suspected of OVI. The officer will give these instructions and even demonstrate some of them. . . but not all. Listen carefully! 
Initial Instructions and Positioning 
  1. Place your left foot on the line. (Demonstrated)
  2. Place your right foot on the line ahead of your left foot, with the heel of your right foot touching the toe of your left foot (Demonstrated)
  3. Place your arms down at your sides. (Demonstrated though I don't know why. If you are too drunk to understand this instruction then you probably should have considered refusing to perform field sobriety tests.
  4. Stay in this position until the officer has completed the instructions. Do NOT start until told to do so.
  5. At this point the officer will ask if you understand the instructions so far - Remember that you have to stand in the position I just described. If you are drunk this momentary pause can prove very challenging. 

Instructions and Demonstration of Test 
  1. When the officer tells you to start, you will take nine hell-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back.
  2. When you turn, keep your front foot on the line and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot. 
  3. While you are walking you have to keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count out loud. 
  4. Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the entire test.
  5. The officer will then ask if you understand the instructions.
  6. When you begin, count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as "One."

I think everyone should do this test at home and try to guess the eight clues that officers are looking for during their DUI investigation. In a future post Nathan Pieri, a highly experienced OVI lawyer, will provide you with information to avoid going through the Ohio OVI process

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration DUI Detection Manual 2006.


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