About the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus in field sobriety testing

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2021 | DUI/DWI Defense |

There are differing points of view with respect to the field sobriety tests a law enforcement officer might request if he or she stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Of the three standard tests, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is probably the most controversial.

What to expect

If law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, the officer may ask you to take field sobriety tests. These consist of the One Leg Stand, to check for impaired balance; the Walk and Turn, which also looks at your coordination and how well you pay attention to the instructions; and the HGN. This test refers to the way you follow side-to-side movement with your eyes.

Personal versus scientific

HGN testing has been under debate in various court cases. In 2000 the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the HGN is not admissible as evidence of guilt. In the words of the court, HGN is “so esoteric that it is beyond the ken of the average person.” In State v. Doriguzzi, the court held that expert testimony was essential to establish the scientific accuracy of the test.

Defense strategy

An advocate working on your behalf will build a defense strategy to question the facts surrounding your arrest since administrative and other errors could have occurred. If you agreed to take the field sobriety tests, investigators will examine the results closely, especially the HGN. Since the results of this test are not admissible in a New Jersey court, the question arises as to whether officers conducted the One Leg Stand and the Walk and Turn correctly. Missteps happen, and you want the best outcome possible for your DUI case.


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