What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?

What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?

Only an experienced Driving Under the Influence (DUI) attorney knows the ins and outs of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and you should never accept anything less when you hire an attorney to fight your DUI.


The SFST consist of 3 basic tests. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn, and The One Leg Stand tests. With all the SFST the officer needs to provide proper instructions and needs to ask the driver specific questions ensuring the accuracy of the tests. For example, during the HGN test, the officer must ask if the driver has contacts on. Not providing proper instructions calls into question the accuracy of the test and will greatly help in your defense. These details are only known by an experienced DUI attorney, so don’t be fooled by hiring the cheapest attorney you find. During the HGN test, the officer is testing the driver to see if the driver has consumed alcohol, not if he or she is intoxicated during the HGN test. This point is confused all the time by defense attorneys, prosecutors and even the police.


The next two tests help the officer determine if the driver is impaired. These tests are divided attention tests, which means that not only is the officer testing the driver’s physical ability, but also his ability to listen and follow directions. The Walk and Turn test has specific instructions – basically the driver is instructed to walk nine steps forward and nine steps backward. During this time the officer is looking for clues of impairment. The clues include not touching heel to toe, making an incorrect turn, or taking an incorrect number of steps.


Finally, the last test is the One Leg Stand test. Just like the others, there are instructions that the officer must provide the driver to ensure he can complete the test to ensure the driver does not have any conditions which would hinder the accuracy of the test. In summary, the driver is asked to raise one leg in the air and count. The officer is looking at the driver’s balance and ability to count.


These three tests are the only standardized field sobriety tests per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards. These are the tests the officers must use. There are others that officers use to help determine if a driver is intoxicated but are not standard or approved and usually can’t provide a good basis for a DUI arrest since they are not based on research. These include counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, and finger to nose test.


This article provides you with just a sliver of the knowledge an experienced DUI attorney has and must have to help protect your rights. Your driver’s license, or more importantly your freedom, is at stake. Call now!