The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test



     shutterstock_74617723-300x192The federal government came up with three standardized tests that all the scientific so-called experts thought were valid and reliable to prove if someone was intoxicated. The first one is HGN: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Horizontal meaning just that, horizontal, gaze meaning they look into your eyes, nystagmus is the involuntary movement of your eyes, and there’s the old saying when they’d teach this to police officers, the eyes don’t lie. If your eyes jerked back and forth, they determined that there may be a level of intoxication.

    The way the test is given is that the police office will hold a pen or other stimulus 12 to 18 inches from your face. The officer has to give you precise instructions. He will start with the left eye. He will move the pen, and you are to follow the pen with your eyes, and if your eyes start to jerk back involuntarily before they get to your nose – that’s 45 degrees – that’s one clue. If your eyes without moving your head cannot equally track or equally follow the pen, that’s clue number two. The third clue is maximum deviation. That means when the pen requires your eye to go all the way to that side of your eye socket and it can’t stay there, and if it’s there and it jerks back and forth, it’s called maximum deviation nystagmus. Six clues, three for each eye.

    If you are given the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test to determine your level of intoxication, it is important to know that it is only 77 percent accurate so there is a possibility to contest it. There are also eye conditions that could make it so your eyes move that way all the time even when not taking the HGN test, which a police officer would not be able to verify.

    If you are in need of legal counsel in New York State, please feel free to contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. and we would be happy to assist you. 

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