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Standard Field Sobriety Tests for DUI in Connecticut

The three commonly used field sobriety tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the stand on one leg test.

In the Horizontal Gaze test, the officer holds up a pen or a finger and observes the driver’s ability to track the object as it moves from the center of the driver’s vision to its edges.  The police officer looks for the point where the eyes lose their fix on the object.  As the driver becomes more intoxicated, this point happens closer to the center of the face.

In the Walk and Turn test, the driver is required to walk a straight line.  He must take nine steps walking heel to toe, turn around on one foot, and then walk heel to toe back to his starting area.  If the driver is unable to stay on the line or stay balanced, it is a sign that he is intoxicated.

The Stand on One Leg test requires the driver to stand with one leg raised in the air for 30 seconds while counting out loud.  If the driver cannot keep his leg off the ground or cannot stay still, it is a sign that he is intoxicated.

An argument has been made that the Horizontal Gaze tests are not sufficiently scientific to be considered as evidence by a court, but this argument has been rejected.  The Walk and Turn test and the Stand on One Leg test have been found not to be scientific in nature and do not require any special knowledge to be understood by a jury.

The argument that the driver failed the test for reasons other than intoxication may put the results of the tests in question, but may not make the arrest improper.  The tests are not used to determine if the driver is intoxicated, but are used in conjunction with other evidence gathered by the law enforcement officer in order to determine if the driver is intoxicated.  In one case the court upheld the arrest of a driver when no field sobriety tests had been performed.  The court stated that probable cause to arrest came from reports of the defendant’s physical condition-including slurred speech and bloodshot eyes- and statements made by witnesses.

However, each time the state wishes to use the results of the tests as evidence, it must show that the tests were administered by someone who was qualified to do so and that the tests were administered properly.

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