Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

There are three standardized field sobriety tests used in Danbury and throughout the country - the walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. We provide more information on these tests on this page and give you some insight on how to refute negative test results.


Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are a standardized way of testing drivers to determine if they are driving while intoxicated in Danbury, Connecticut. These tests are aimed at testing coordination, balance, and the ability to follow directions. The test results can be used as a basis for probable cause to support a DUI arrest. The three SFSTs include the (1) Horizontal gaze nystagmus, (2) Walk-and-turn test, and (3) One-leg stand test.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The first of the three tests is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, often referred to as the most reliable indicator of intoxication. The officer will hold up a small object such as a pen in front of the driver’s eyes and move the pen from side to side, tracking the driver’s eye movements.

Nystagmus is when the eyes make jerking movements while following the movement of something in front of them. The theory is that nystagmus is a symptom of impairment caused by alcohol in the blood. Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses or having a brain injury such as a concussion can affect the accuracy of this test.

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The next test used is the walk-and-turn, which tests the driver’s ability to focus on physically moving while also following very specific instructions. Having a flat surface and sufficient space for the walk is necessary, so if you are asked to perform this test on a hill or wet grass, for example, these factors will affect the accuracy of the test. Following the specific instructions of the officer is also critical for this test.

The officer will look for several indicators of intoxication such as 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.

One-Leg Stand

The final test is the one-leg stand. This test requires the driver to balance on one leg while holding the other leg about six inches off of the ground. The driver must keep their arms to the side, keep their eyes on the elevated foot, and count out loud from one to thirty seconds. Some indicators that the officer will look at for this test include swaying while balancing, using the arms for balance, putting the foot down, and hopping.

If you are stopped by the Danbury police, and they request that you perform field sobriety tests, you have the right to refrain from performing the tests and answering their questions. If you are looking for assistance with a DUI, call Lady DUI today.

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