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Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

There are three main tests that Branford police officers rely on when trying to determine if a person is driving under the influence of alcohol. These are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test, collectively referred to as the standardized field sobriety tests. Learn more about these tests on this page.


To assess if a driver is impaired in Branford, police officers will test the suspect’s balance and coordination through a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). To provide a basis for a DUI arrest, the officer will typically conduct these three Branford field sobriety tests – the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. You can learn more about the Branford field sobriety tests on this page.

The Branford Field Sobriety Tests


The walk-and-turn test is a divided attention test and is one of the three Branford field sobriety tests. The person must concentrate on both the physical act of walking while also being mindful of the mental task of following the specific instructions. This test is administered by the officer in a setting that is flat, dry, and absent other factors that may inform the ability of the person to complete the task.

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The officer will generally begin by instructing the person to walk a certain distance, in a certain manner, typically toe to heel, in a straight line, while counting the number of steps. The officer will watch to make note of any deviations in walking or counting and to see that the person has adequately done what it was that was requested. The officer will be looking to see if the person walks in a straight line, for the right amount of steps, in the proper manner. The officer will also take note of the person’s ability to balance and if they need to deviate from the straight line or use the arms for balance and so forth.

One-Leg Stand

The one-leg stand is similar in principle to the walk-and-turn test, as it is also a divided attention test. In this test, the officer will tell the person to stand on one leg, with the other a certain distance from the ground. While doing this, it will be requested of the person to count in a certain fashion to a certain number, typically, “one one thousand, two one thousand,” and so forth. The officer wants to see that the instructions are followed correctly and that the person can stand on one leg without falling over, putting a foot down, or needing their arms to balance themself.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The final of the Branford field sobriety tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, is perhaps the most accurate, but is still subjective, and open to interference by the context in which it is employed. This test is typically administered by a police officer holding out an object, like a pen, and instructing the person to follow the pen’s movement with only their eyes.

The officer checks to see if the person is following the instructions, only using their eyes, but also looking for signs within the eyes for impairment. Intoxication causes the eyes to be unable to move smoothly from side to side, and the eyes will jerk or otherwise show signs of an inability to move in such a manner. This test is not perfect, though, and underlying eye or brain issues may cause a false positive.

It is important to note that one need not take part in these tests and may politely decline. If you have been arrested for DUI in Branford, it is important to be represented by a DUI defense attorney. To achieve this, call Lady DUI today.

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