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Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Posted on:12/2/2011
In the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the police officer will observe the driver’s eye for involuntary jerking while the driver’s eye gazes to the side. This test is based on the assumption that alcohol use induces involuntary jerking of the eye.


Nystagmus is a medical term for eye oscillation. To perform the test, the police officer requires the suspect to follow the beam from a penlight at close range, straight ahead, and then from right to left. This test estimates the angle at which a suspect's eye begins to jerk about or oscillate.

Involuntary jerking of the eye can have many causes besides intoxication. Medication and fatigue often cause involuntary jerking of the eye.

In fact the NHTSA admits to the shortcomings of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and has qualified that the validity of this test cannot be established independently. So the result of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test alone cannot be accepted as evidence of DUI. The courts will accept the results of a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test only if there is other evidence to support the DUI charge.

The relationship between intoxication and involuntary jerking of the eye can only be established through a full clinical examination. A road side Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is not a reliable test for intoxication.


  
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