Horizontal gaze nystagmus is one test you can’t study for

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2017 | Blog |

Living in State College can be a lot of fun, especially if you are on point for earning your college degree and taking steps toward achieving your life goals. Whether you’re in the beginning stages of your college journey or nearing graduation, you may be building memories (both academic and social) that you’ll cherish for years to come.

You may also have already encountered a problem or two — perhaps a low grade in a class that is crucial to your success or a social situation like a break-up with a romantic partner. Such is life in college although knowing such things are par for the course does not make them any easier to navigate when they occur. You may also face serious legal problems if police approach you at a party or in traffic and suspect you of DUI, drug possession or some other criminal offense.

Why you need to know about the horizontal gaze nystagmus test

If you’ve ever seen a movie where a police officer conducts a traffic stop and makes the driver walk a straight line, then you’re familiar with a field sobriety test. Police often use such tests in real life as well to determine whether a person may be operating a motor vehicle while impaired. The HGN is another test that can land you behind bars if you don’t pass your exam. The following facts explain more about this test and how it can impact your situation in a traffic stop:

  • Nystagmus is a scientific term that refers to involuntary rapid eye movement.
  • When you gaze from side to side or up and down without moving your head, your eye naturally jerks a bit at certain points. This jerking is known to be highly exaggerated in intoxicated people.
  • A police officer may hold a finger in front of your face or a pen, or some other object and instruct you to track the object using only your eyes as he or she moves it in one direction or another.
  • The officer is also likely to be shining a bright flashlight in your direction while conducting the HGN test.
  • If the officer thinks your eye jerks too much before it reaches maximum deviation (as far as you can glance in one direction) you may wind up in the back of a squad car on your way to jail.

If you perform poorly on a college exam, it may have temporary or permanent negative consequences on your academic career. If you perform poorly on an HGN test, the implications can affect the rest of your life. As in all situations where prosecutors file criminal charges, the accusation against you does not necessarily mean the court will convict you; in fact, your rights allow you to refuse to take the HGN without incurring any legal penalty.

Failed a DUI test? Support is available

If you fail an HGN or other field sobriety test, you may find yourself taking on a challenge that many college students have faced before you. It is sometimes possible to avoid DUI conviction as many have successfully shown after allowing experienced defense attorneys to act on their behalves in court.