Jefferson Memorial

The “Imaginary Line” in the Walk-and-Turn Test

Jamison KoehlerDUI and Driving Offenses, Trial Advocacy

Q:  Now, officer, let me turn to the walk-and-turn test.

A:  Okay.

Q:  You testified on direct that Mr. Smith stepped off the line three times.  That is, he stepped off the line twice on the way down, and once on the way back.

A:  Yes.  That’s right.

Q:  And stepping off the line is one of eight clues you used to determine whether or not Mr. Smith passed this test.

A:  Yes.

Q:  Let’s talk about this line.

A:  Okay.

Q:  NHTSA instructs you to use an imaginary line, right?

A:  Yes.  If there is not a real line to use.

Q:  In this case, there was not a real line to use.

A:  No.  There wasn’t.  Not where we could do it safely.

Q:  So this is how you instructed Mr. Smith, right?

A:  Yes.

Q:  You told him to use an imaginary line?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Well, officer, let me ask you this.  How wide was the line that you imagined?

A:  You know, I mean, I guess the same width of a fog line or a parking space line or something like that.

Q:  And how wide was Mr. Smith’s imaginary line?

A:  I don’t know.  I really can’t say.  I guess he would just imagine what a line looks like and perform it on that line.

Q:  Did Mr. Smith imagine the same line that you were imagining?

A:  I don’t know.  I’m not 100 percent sure what he was thinking.