Blogs from October, 2014

Field Sobriety Test - Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus


The HGN – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Test is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests. The police officer will ask you to follow a pen, or other stimulus, with their eyes, and their eyes only, without moving their head. The police officer will conduct a series of passes across the front of the face from left to right and right to left. The officer will also move the stimulus up and down.

The officer is looking for an involuntary twitching of the eye. Because the eye twitch is involuntary it is almost impossible to “beat” this test.

How to Effectively Decline a HGN

When I describe the test to individuals in public or at speaking engagements, people develop seemingly clever ways to deceive or frustrate the test . . . move your head, talk, be distracted by surroundings.

While these techniques may not allow the police officer to get an accurate reading of nystagmus, the officer will testify at trial that the suspect was incapable of following directions or staying focused due to their level of intoxication.

Rather than attempt to deceive the test with movement that will be blamed on intoxication, I have seen people have success in declining the test due to eye allergies, dry eyes, or other eye issues.

Up next . . .the Nine Step Walk and Turn…

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