The walk-and-turn test is a standardized field sobriety test (FST) that police frequently administer in order to detect whether an OWI suspect is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. If you have recently “failed” the walk-and-turn test, you need to get in touch with a DUI attorney in Indiana as soon as possible, as you will more than likely need some sort of criminal defense attorney to help with DUI charges.

The test is also sometimes referred to as the :

  • Nine-step test
  • Nine step walk turn
  • DUI straight line test
  • DUI walk the line test

During the walk-and-turn test, the suspect is ordered to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. After taking nine heel-to-toe steps, the suspect is then directed to turn on one foot and return in the same exact manner in the opposite direction.

Police officers normally look for eight key indicators of impairment when administering the walk-and-turn test:

  • If the suspect cannot keep his or her balance during instructions,
  • Starts too soon,
  • Stops while walking,
  • Doesn’t touch heel-to-toe,
  • Steps off the line,
  • Uses arms to balance,
  • Performs improper turn or turns incorrectly, or
  • Takes an incorrect amount of steps.


According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), studies have revealed the walk and turn test to be 68% accurate in determining whether a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 10. or greater.5

NHTSA has formulated particular procedures for officers to follow when overseeing the walk and turn test, as well as specific clues to look for in scoring the test.

Nonetheless, law enforcement officials often administer the walk and turn test incorrectly and/or interpret the clues erroneously. This in turn leads to even greater uncertainty surrounding the actual reliability / accuracy of the test in determining whether or not a particular driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs

In the walk-and-turn test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, touching 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 indicators of impairment: if the suspect cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions, begins before the instructions are finished, stops while walking to regain balance, does not touch heel-to-toe, uses arms to balance, steps off the line, takes an incorrect number of steps, or makes an improper turn. A 1998 validation study found 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.