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Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

One common tactic used by police to detect intoxication is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, or HGN test. This is one of the many field sobriety tests officers use to determine one’s sobriety.

Police officers will ask the suspect to look at an object (usually a pen). While the object is moved back and forth, the officer is watching the eyes of the suspect looking for a lack of smooth pursuit. If nystagmus can be detected, the suspect will likely be arrested. Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes.

However, the HGN test is far from perfect. Many other conditions may cause nystagmus. These include:

• Multiple Sclerosis
• Stroke
• Brain Tumors
• Visual loss
• Sedatives

Unless the police officer is also a well-trained ophthalmologist, his or her tests are often completely inaccurate! Even if nystagmus is properly detected, alcohol may not be the cause. The HGN test is one way to identify intoxicated behavior, but is very ineffective if tested alone.

Charged With DUI?

A DUI lawyer can work with you to lessen a DUI sentence, if not have it completely dropped. This is one circumstance where you want a lawyer who specializes in the field. A “general” lawyer used by the family is not the best choice when defending a serious DUI charge. DUI laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing!