What is a standardized field sobriety test?

A standardized field sobriety test (SFST) is a police tool to help the officer try to identify an intoxicated driver. The three SFSTs are as follows:

    1. The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test
    2. The one-leg stand test
    3. The walk and turn test

These three tests were developed by researchers funded by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to those researchers, a failure of any of the tests means the person has an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. Of importance is the fact that there is a great ongoing debate about the validity, accuracy, and reliability of both the researchers’ conclusions and their tests.

There is no implied consent requirement that a person submit to a law enforcement officer’s request to take these SFSTs or any other police motor skill coordination exercise. Indeed, many knowledgeable people refer to the SFSTs as nothing more than “roadside gymnastics.”