Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test comprise the standardized field sobriety tests in Windsor and throughout the United States. Here, you can learn more about each of these tests, how they are scored, and how these scores might be refuted in court if you face a Windsor DUI.


In Windsor, police use the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to determine if one is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. These tests are designed to focus on the driver’s ability to follow directions, use balance, and coordination. Failing to pass these tests is seen as an indication that the person is operating the vehicle when they are too impaired to do so. The three tests are (1) Horizontal gaze nystagmus, (2) Walk-and-turn test, and (3) One-leg stand test. You can learn more about these tests on this page.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is often thought of as the most accurate determination of a driver’s intoxication. For this test, the officer will hold out an object, such as a pen, and instruct the driver to follow the pen with their eyes only. This test works because when impaired, the eyes do not move smoothly and will often time jitter and jerk.

This test is often done without the suspect realizing that their eyes could give them away. Even if the driver tried to focus on keeping their eye movement smooth, they probably could not since this is an involuntary act. Keep in mind that this test is not perfect. It can be affected by contacts, eyeglasses, or a previous concussion or brain injury.

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The next test oftentimes performed if a person is suspected of driving under the influence is the walk-and-turn test. Walk-and-turn is a divided attention based test and determines if the person can follow directions while also performing a physical task. This test is done by asking the suspect to walk a specific number of steps in a specific manner while counting the steps off. The police officer is looking to see if the person is able to perform the test and if the person is able to maintain balance while doing so. Falling over, stumbling, and using your arms to remain balanced are considered signs of intoxication.

One-Leg Stand

The final test, the one-leg stand test, is similar in concept and design as the walk-and-turn test. This is another divided attention test. The test is performed by the person standing on one leg and raising the other, and counting to a designated number. The officer is watching to see if the person is able to do it correctly, counts correctly, and does not fall over, stumble, or otherwise need their arms to remain balanced and upright.

Defending Yourself Against the Tests

Once again, there can be issues with divided attention tests such as the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand test. Even a healthy and sober person may have difficulty performing these physical tasks. Issues that would make the test harder that do not have anything to do with intoxication are wearing tight clothing, wearing heels, recovering from a physical injury, being obese, etc. These factors should be considered when defending against the test results.

Windsor and the surrounding area has had many DUIs in recent times, one even resulting in the death of a South Windsor police officer. As such, police are vigilant and on the lookout for DUIs. Further, due to its proximity to Hartford and other examples of nightlife, the police are ever vigilant. DUIs have long-lasting impacts on people financially and socially, and it is necessary to have adequate representation on these matters. To speak with a DUI defense attorney, call Lady DUI today.

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