Walk-and-Turn Test In Colorado
Every driver needs to understand their rights and responsibilities when they are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado. One of these responsibilities might include performing a Walk-and-Turn test, a standard field sobriety test. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the Walk-and-Turn test in Colorado – its legal aspects, practical considerations, common issues, and potential defenses.
Understanding the Walk-and-Turn Test
Law enforcement personnel often employ the Walk-and-Turn test, a standardized field sobriety exam, to evaluate whether or not a suspect is impaired. It is considered a ‘divided attention’ test as it requires the suspect to listen to instructions while performing physical tasks.
In Colorado, as in other states, the Walk-and-Turn test is a crucial component of DUI enforcement. Designed to assess balance, coordination, and the ability to follow instructions, this test may seem simple, but it can be challenging to perform under pressure, especially if a person is nervous, has certain physical impairments, or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It is important to remember that while the Walk-and-Turn test is commonly used, it is not infallible. A multitude of factors can affect a person’s performance, including health conditions, physical impairments, weather conditions, and even the shoes a person is wearing.
Administering the Test
The administration of the Walk-and-Turn test follows a specific procedure. The officer will begin by providing verbal instructions and demonstrating the test. The suspect must walk nine steps in a straight line, pivot on the ball of one foot, then walk back nine feet.
Officers look for eight signs of incapacitation during the walk-and-turn test: losing balance while listening to instructions, beginning the test before they are complete, stopping while walking, failing to touch heels together, veering off the marked path, leaning on arms for support, turning the wrong way, or taking an incorrect number of steps.
The officer’s observations during the test administration are vital in determining impairment and will likely form part of the evidence used in any subsequent legal proceedings.
Legal Implications of the Test
The Walk-and-Turn test results can significantly influence the legal process following a DUI arrest. If a suspect fails the test, this can be used as evidence of impairment and may contribute to a conviction for DUI. The findings can be used in court to back up the officer’s suspicions that the driver was inebriated.
However, it is important to note that failing the Walk-and-Turn test alone may not be enough to convict a person of a DUI. In Colorado, as in other states, a DUI conviction requires evidence that the suspect was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point where they could not safely operate a vehicle. This often requires additional evidence, such as a breathalyzer test result, blood test, or other field sobriety tests.
Test Failure: Next Steps
If a suspect fails the Walk-and-Turn test, they will typically be arrested for DUI. After the arrest, the suspect may be asked to take a breathalyzer or blood test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusal to take these tests can lead to additional legal penalties, including the automatic suspension of the suspect’s driver’s license.
Following a DUI arrest, the suspect should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Fines, jail time, and the revocation of driving privileges are just some of the potential outcomes of a DUI conviction. An experienced DUI attorney can advise on the best course of action and potentially help to challenge the DUI charge.
Common Problems with the Test
The Walk-and-Turn test, like all field sobriety tests, is not foolproof. There are several common problems that can affect the accuracy of the test results.
One common problem is that the test requires a level, hard surface. If the test is conducted on an uneven surface, this can make it more difficult for the suspect to maintain their balance, potentially leading to a false positive result.
Another issue is that the test is designed for individuals in good physical health. People with certain physical impairments or medical conditions, such as a bad back or knee, may have difficulty performing the test even if they are not impaired.
Additionally, the test requires the suspect to understand and follow a series of complex instructions. Language barriers, hearing impairments, or nervousness can interfere with a person’s ability to understand the instructions, which could affect their performance on the test.
Contesting Test Results
It’s possible to contest the results of the Walk-and-Turn test in court. If the test was improperly administered or if there were external factors that could have affected the results, these could potentially be grounds for challenging the test.
An experienced DUI attorney can examine the circumstances surrounding the test and may be able to identify errors or other factors that could undermine the validity of the results. For example, if the officer failed to provide proper instructions or the test was conducted on an uneven surface, these could potentially be used as grounds to challenge the test results.
Role of Legal Counsel
Having a skilled DUI attorney can be invaluable when facing a DUI charge in Colorado. An attorney can advise you on your rights, guide you through the legal process, and help you challenge the results of the Walk-and-Turn test, if applicable.
Your lawyer can examine the material, including any recordings of the test, and confer with specialists to cast doubt on the reliability of the outcomes. They can also help negotiate a plea deal or represent you at trial, if necessary.
Consequences of Refusing the Test
In Colorado, refusal to perform the Walk-and-Turn test can have serious implications. Under Colorado’s implied consent law, anyone who holds a Colorado driver’s license is considered to have agreed to take field sobriety tests if lawfully requested by a police officer. Refusal can result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license, even if you are ultimately found not guilty of the DUI charge.
However, it is crucial to understand that while refusing the test can lead to penalties, it also means there will be less evidence of impairment if the case goes to court. Therefore, whether to take or refuse the test is a decision that should be made based on the circumstances and, if possible, with the advice of an attorney.
Impact on Driving Record
A failed Walk-and-Turn test and subsequent DUI charge can have a long-lasting impact on your driving record. A DUI conviction in Colorado remains on your driving record for life. This can result in increased insurance rates and can affect your ability to rent a vehicle, among other potential repercussions.
Walk-and-Turn Test vs Other Sobriety Tests
The Walk-and-Turn test is utilized by Colorado law enforcement as one of numerous field sobriety tests. The one-legged stand test and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test are two other examples of standard diagnostic procedures. Each test has its own strengths and weaknesses, and law enforcement may administer multiple tests to get a more accurate assessment of a suspect’s level of impairment.
- What is the Walk-and-Turn Test? An example of a field sobriety test used by law enforcement is the Walk-and-Turn Test. It involves walking heel-to-toe along a straight line, turning on one foot, and returning in the same manner.
- How accurate is the Walk-and-Turn Test? While the Walk-and-Turn test is considered reliable, it’s not infallible. Multiple factors can affect a person’s performance, including health conditions, physical impairments, and environmental conditions.
- What happens if I refuse the Walk-and-Turn Test in Colorado? Refusal to perform the Walk-and-Turn test can result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license under Colorado’s implied consent law.
- Can I contest the results of the Walk-and-Turn Test? Yes, it’s possible to contest the results of the Walk-and-Turn test in court. An experienced DUI attorney can assist in challenging the test results.
- How does a failed Walk-and-Turn Test affect my driving record? A failed Walk-and-Turn test can lead to a DUI charge, which, if convicted, remains on your driving record for life in Colorado.
- What are the legal implications of the Walk-and-Turn Test? If a suspect fails the test, this can be used as evidence of impairment and may contribute to a DUI conviction.
- What should I do if I fail the Walk-and-Turn Test? A DUI arrest is common if you fail the test. It’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
- What other tests are used besides the Walk-and-Turn Test? The one-legged stand test and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test are two other examples of standard diagnostic procedures.
- What problems can affect the accuracy of the Walk-and-Turn Test? Several factors can affect accuracy, including the test surface, physical or medical conditions of the suspect, and whether the suspect properly understood the instructions.
- What role can legal counsel play if I fail the Walk-and-Turn Test? A skilled DUI attorney can advise on your rights, guide you through the legal process, and potentially challenge the results of the Walk-and-Turn test.
The Walk-and-Turn test is an important part of DUI enforcement in Colorado. However, it is far from foolproof, and there are many factors that can impact the accuracy of the results. Understanding how the test works and the potential implications can help individuals make informed decisions if they are ever faced with this situation.
It is essential to remember that if you are arrested for a DUI, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney who specializes in DUI cases can explain the law, explain your rights, and assist you decide whether or not to contest the findings of any field sobriety tests.
As a driver, your best defense against a DUI charge is to understand your rights and responsibilities, to know the implications of field sobriety tests, and to seek competent legal advice when necessary. Stay informed, stay safe, and remember, the best way to avoid a DUI charge is to not drive while impaired.