So far we have reviewed the field sobriety tests in general, the alphabet test and the HGN. Now we are going to examine the 9 step walk and turn.
The standardized field sobriety tests . . . HGN, 9 Step Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand can be performed in any order. Once the police officer stops your vehicle and suspects you have been drinking they will normally ask (tell) you to exit the vehicle and perform some tasks.
What is the 9 Step Walk and Turn Test?
The 9 Step Walk and Turn is a test which requires the driver to take 9 steps forward in a straight line, touching heel to toe with each step and keeping their hands at their side. Once they complete the 9th step, the driver is to pivot on one foot and then walk nine steps back to where they began. This is all done while counting your steps out loud.
Personally, I would never attempt this test. Old sports injuries, being on your feet all day, being tired or any other excuse is better than attempting to walk a straight line while nervous and knowing your freedom is at stake. One of the little known realities of a white or yellow line on the roadway is that it is about the same width as an olympic balance beam!!!
It is very important if attempting the task to remember:
- The test actually begins when the officer tells you to stand with one foot in front of the other and keep your hands at your side while he demonstrates the task. This is referred to as the starting position
- Count out loud
- Touch the heel of the foot you are setting on the ground to the toe of the foot already on the ground
- Keep your hands at your side
- You select your pace! Some people can walk better faster and some people slower. Pick the pace best for you
- The pivot is being graded too. Keep one foot planted and turn using a series of small pivots with the other foot. You should raise the heel of your planted foot to make pivoting easier – pivot on your toes – just not ballerina style!
- Repeat the procedure walking back, remember you are still being “graded”
Up next . . . the One Leg Stand