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New Hampshire Walk-and-Turn Test

When a New Hampshire law enforcement agent pulls a driver over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), he or she may administer a series of field sobriety tests to establish probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest. While there are several tests that may be used, only three have been developed and standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

The walk-and-turn is what’s known as a “divided attention” test. This means that it measures your ability to both follow directions and complete a physical task. These abilities can become diminished due to the consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.

To administer the walk-and-turn test, the officer will first ask you to stand in a certain manner while he or she explains and then demonstrates how the test should be performed. In reality, the test begins during this stage, as the officer will watch to see if you can maintain balance while he or she is providing directions.

To perform this test, you will be required to take nine steps forward in a heel-to-toe manner on a real or imaginary line, pivot, and take nine more heel-to-toe steps back. The officer will look for nine clues during the walk-and-turn test, which include: inability to balance while listening to instructions, starting before the instructions are finished, stopping during the test to regain balance, failing to touch head-to-toe, stepping off of the line, using your arms for balance, losing balance while turning, taking an incorrect number of steps, and being unable to perform the test. If you exhibit two or more of these clues, you can be arrested for DWI.