How Your New Jersey DUI Lawyer Will Deal With Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test Results

What Is Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus?

Drunk driving attorneyHorizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary eye movement that happens when a person looks towards the edge of his or her field of vision. It could perhaps be described as the eye trying to jerk back to the center. It cannot be controlled, and because it does not affect the subject’s vision, he or she is unaware it is happening. Its primary causes are a disturbance of the inner ear or the occulomotor control system, but everyone exhibits horizontal gaze nystagmus to some extent.

 What Does Nystagmus Have to Do With My New Jersey DUIArrest?

Horizontal gaze nystagmus can be more pronounced after alcohol consumption, so it is commonly used by police officers as a sign of intoxication. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is one of three “standardized” field sobriety tests that were investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1970s and determined to be useful as indicators of a subject’s blood alcohol level. (The other two were the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test.) These three field sobriety tests are the most commonly administered, and if you were pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in New Jersey, there is a good chance you were asked to take this test.

How Do Police Officers Grade the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?

A police officer will perform the test twice, looking for three different factors:

– Lack of smooth pursuit

– Distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation

– Onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees


If four of these six clues (three from each of the two tests) are present, the officer will take it as a sign that you have a blood alcohol level above 0.10 percent.

How Can an Experienced New Jersey DUI Lawyer Help?

An experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer will be able to point out the possible shortcomings of a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, including errors in how the test was administered and causes of nystagmus other than alcohol.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, you face serious penalties, including fines, increased insurance rates, a suspended license, and even jail time. You should take these charges very seriously and should hire a qualified New Jersey DUI lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. Call Dan Matrafajlo for a free initial consultation at (908) 248-4404.




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