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Walk and Turn

NHTSA SFST Standards and Procedures
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Testing

In Missouri, officers are trained to follow the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) procedure of the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The three (3) tests set out in the NHTSA SFST procedure are made part of Missouri's uniform Alcohol Influence Report (AIR), which is completed by officers when they arrest a person for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Missouri.

The Walk and Turn test is one of the three accepted standardized field sobriety tests.

One this page, you will find a table outlining the accepted procedures and standards set by the NHTSA for the administration and grading of the Walk and Turn test.


National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST)
NHTSA SFST Standards and Procedures

Standardized Administrative Procedures


Standardized Clues

(VIII-9) (To be used only once)

Standardized Criterion (VIII-10)

Specific Procedures


Conditions that may interfere w/ W&T


Always begin by having the suspect assume the heel-toe stance, right foot in front of left.

Loses balance during the instruction

stage (feet must break away from heel-toe stance)

At least two (2) clues = BAC > .10

Have suspect assume heel-to-toe stance

then give following instruction.

Wind/ Weather conditions

Verify that the suspect understands that the stance is to be maintained while the instructions are given.

Starts walking too soon (During instruction phase)


“Place your left foot on the line.” (Place your own left foot to demonstrate)

Suspect’s age, weight

If the suspect breaks away from the stance as the instructions are given, cease giving instructions until the stance is resumed.

Stops while walking


Place your right foot no the line ahead of the left foot, with heel of right foot against tow of left foot.” (Demonstrate)

“W&T requires a designated straight line, and should be conducted on a dry, hard, level, non-slippery surface

under relatively safe conditions.” “If these conditions don’t exist, suspects should be asked to perform this test elsewhere or only HGN should be used (VIII-21)

Tell the suspect that they will be required to take

9 heel-to-toe

steps down the line, to turn around, and to take 9 heel-to-toe steps up the line.

Misses heel-to-toe while walking (by at least ½ inch)


Place your arms down at your side.”


Demonstrate several heel-toe steps.

Raises arms from side while walking (six inches or more)


Keep this position until I tell you to begin. Do not start to walk until I tell you to do so.”


Demonstrate the turn.

Turns improperly


Do you understand the instructions so far?”

“Some people have difficulty with balance even sober.” Test not valid for people over 65, injuries to legs or inner ear disorders, heels more than 2” high and people blind in one eye due to depth perception. VIII-21

Tell the suspect

to keep the arms at the sides, to watch the feet, to count the steps aloud, and not to stop walking until the test is completed.

Takes the wrong number of steps





Ask the suspect whether they understand: if not, re-explain whatever is not understood.



“When I tell you to start, take 9 heel-to-toe steps down the line, turn around, and take

9 heel-to-toe steps back up the line.” (Demonstrate 2-3 steps)


Tell the suspect to begin.


“When you turn, keep the front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of

small steps with the other foot, like this.” (Demonstrate)

This test tends to lose its sensitivity if it is repeated several times.  VIII-20

If the suspect staggers or stops, allow them to resume from the point of interruption; do not require the suspect to start over from the beginning.


“While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps our loud.”


“Observe the suspect from 3 or 4 feet away and remain motionless while the subject performs the test. Being too close or excessive motion on your part will make it MORE DIFFICULT  for the suspect to perform, even if sober.” VIII-21


“Once you start walking, do not stop until you have completed the test.”




“Do you understand the instructions?”


“Begin and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as ‘One’. ”




Conditions on Page VIII-21


Test not valid for people over 65, injuries to legs or inner ear disorders, heels more than 2” high, and people blind in one eye due to depth perception. | MO DWI / DUI Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys | Criminal and Traffic Law Defense

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