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Standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests

Connecticut residents who have been pulled on suspicion of driving under the influence will likely face a field sobriety test or two. These tests are used to determine a person's sobriety level before arrests are made or further tests are ordered.

FindLaw takes a look at field sobriety tests, of which there are standardized and non-standardized versions. The standardized ones are typically used in court because they have a widely agreed-upon consensus on what is considered a "pass" and what is a "fail". Non-standardized ones include:

  • Standing with feet together and tipping the head back
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Counting backwards
  • Counting the fingers an officer raises
  • Closing the eyes and touching the nose

Compared to that, takes a look at the set of standardized field sobriety tests. These tests include the walk and turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the one-leg stand. The latter is self-explanatory, with the person needing to stand on one leg to show balance. The walk and turn involves walking heel to toe for nine steps, turning, and walking back the same way along the same line. The horizontal gaze nystagmus checks jerky eye movement by having a person follow an object smoothly with their gaze.

There can be reasons for these tests to be failed that don't have to do with a person's sobriety, though. This is why they are not the most reliable measures of sobriety. Anyone who is facing potential charges where field sobriety tests play a role may wish to seek an attorney's defense.

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