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Ford Heiress DUI – Part Three

by | Apr 15, 2011

In the final part of this series, I would like to take a better look at the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test. This is the test when a Washington, DC police officer asks a DWI suspect to follow his finger/flashlight.  The officer is checking for involuntary jerks (Nystagmus) when the eye moves from side to side (horizontally).  This test is recognized by NHTSA as one of only three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. It has been found by their studies to be around 70 percent accurate in determining if a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.01 grams per milliliters of blood or higher, if done properly. The problem with this test is that it is not always done properly.

If the officer reports an onset of distinct Nystagmus prior to 45 degrees, he is saying that he saw the involuntary eye movement before the drunk driving suspect’s gaze was 45 degrees from center.  When questioned by a Washington, DC DWI defense lawyer trained in the administration of field sobriety tests, many officers are unable to demonstrate the proper way to perform this test.

In case you were wondering, the other two official SFSTs are the One Legged Stand (OLS) test and the Walk and Turn (WAT).  The OLS is when the DC police officer asks a suspect to stand on one leg and count aloud.  This is a test of a person’s balance.   Many sober people cannot do this properly, especially if the suspected drunk driver is overweight as many Americans are.  The WAT test involves the officer instructing the motorist to take a series of heel to toe steps on a real or imaginary line.

It is important to remember that an arrest for DUI is not a conviction and there is a lot that can be done to help your situation.