Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

There are three main standardized field sobriety tests that are used throughout Avon, the state of Connecticut, and the country. They are the walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Learn more about what to expect from these tests on this page.


Police officers use Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) to determine whether a driver may be driving under the influence in Avon. This series of three tests is designed to test the driver’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow directions. The results of these tests are often used by Avon officers to support a DUI arrest. The three SFSTs include: the (1) One leg stand test, (2) Walk-and-turn test, and (3) Horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Defining SFSTs

One of the standardized field sobriety tests is the one-leg stand test. This test requires the driver to stand on one leg while holding the other leg up with their foot about six inches from the ground. While standing, the driver must keep his arms to the side, keep eyes on the elevated foot, and count out loud until reaching thirty seconds. Four indicators that the officer will be looking for include using the arms for balance, swaying while balancing, hopping, and putting the foot down.

The walk-and-turn test is a divided attention test that requires the driver to complete a physical task and follow very specific instructions. The officer will direct the driver to walk on an imaginary line while taking nine heel-to-toe steps. This test should be performed on a hard, dry, level, non-slip surface that has sufficient space for the nine steps. It is also critical that the officer confirms with the driver that the instructions were clear and understood.

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Indicators that the officer will look for include starting too soon, stopping at any point while walking, not touching heel to toe, stepping off of the imaginary straight line, losing balance, taking the wrong number of steps, and using arms for balance. These mistakes are taken as signs of physical or mental deficiencies caused by impairment.

Finally, there is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This test tracks a person’s eye movements while following an object moving in front of them. The officer will often hold something out, such as a pen, and while moving the pen, the driver is directed to follow it using only their eyes. As the eyes follow the pen, the driver’s eyes may smoothly move side-to-side, or there will be nystagmus present, which is a very subtle jerking of the eyes as they move. Some factors could affect the accuracy of this test, such as wearing eyeglasses, contact lenses, or having suffered from a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.

Facing a DUI Charge

The town of Avon has well-traveled routes that lead to larger cities such as Hartford, so it is important to be aware of officers stopping drivers and also performing DUI checkpoints. If you are stopped by Avon police officers and asked to perform SFSTs, remember that you have the right to decline to perform them as well as refrain from answering the officer’s questions. Call Lady DUI today if you need representation for a DUI.

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