Legality & Critera

The standardized field sobriety tests are supposed to indicate if a person is intoxicated, but this is not always the case. Learn more about the legality of these tests and the criteria that must be followed by the police on this page. If you want to refute standardized field sobriety test results, contact us for help.


Oftentimes when Connecticut police suspect that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to take the standardized field sobriety tests. It is important to remember that you do not have to comply with this request and you can refuse to take the tests.

What is the criteria for these tests? If you do take the tests, remember that the results may be inaccurate. A police officer may claim that you have failed the tests, but the “failure” may be due to mistakes that the police officer made, and is not necessarily an indication fo intoxication. On this page, you can learn more about the legality of the standardized field sobriety testes and the criteria for administering and scoring these tests.

Test Elements and Requirements

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) are psychophysical tests. A Connecticut DUI field test is an “objective” and “standardized” measure of a sample of behavior, focusing on three elements.

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1) Objectivity: Aspects of a test have basis in objective criteria and are not influenced by the subjective opinion of examiner. This includes the scoring or the interpretation of the score.

2) Standardization: There is uniformity of procedure in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the test and results.

3) Behavior Sample: A representative sample of a person’s behavior from which one can draw inferences and hypotheses.

A test is not a psychological x-ray, nor does it necessarily reveal hidden conflicts and forbidden wishes.

The U.S. DOT requires 35 practice tests within a six month period, but local and state police have varying requirements based on their own department’s criteria. A refusal of a chemical test cannot act as a practice test, as a blood alcohol reading must corroborate the evaluation of the suspect. The officer gets trained to conduct the HGN test last during their practice test period and not to formulate an opinion based on the results or use it for probable cause to arrest. They get told not to document the test due to this.

At no time may a person tested be used more than once on a practice test. As a result of this it is necessary to review the documentation of the practice tests in order to determine if the practitioner was properly recommended for certification.

Administering and Scoring the Tests

Police need to follow specific protocols if they are going to utilize standardized field sobriety tests accurately. There are many factors that could interfere with the test results. A few common factors include:

  • Failing to provide clear instructions for how to properly take the tests.
  • Failing to demonstrate the tests in an accurate way.
  • Performing the tests too close to the main road.
  • Performing the tests in bad weather conditions (ex. in the snow, rain, wind, at a location that is too dark, etc.).
  • Letting a driver perform the tests in improper clothing (ex. heels, without wearing contacts or glasses if needed, etc.).
  • The driver’s age.
  • The driver’s weight.
  • The driver’s overall health.

Factors such as these have nothing to do with intoxication but can cause a driver to “fail” the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Help From a DUI Defense Lawyer

If a police officer says that you have failed a standardized field sobriety test and is using this information to charge you with a DUI, you need to fight to protect yourself. The best way to do this is to consult with a DUI defense lawyer. For more information and assistance, contact us.

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