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Understanding the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you are facing criminal charges in West Virginia for driving under the influence, it is crucial to understand the evidence that may be used against you. One such piece of evidence is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test.

What is the HGN Test?

Law enforcement uses the HGN field sobriety test to determine if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the test, an officer will move an object, such as a pen or finger, horizontally across your field of vision while instructing you to follow it with your eyes. The officer is looking for involuntary jerking movements of your eyes, known as nystagmus, which can be an indication of impairment.

Properly conducting the test

How is the HGN test used in criminal defense cases? While the HGN test is widely used by law enforcement, it is only sometimes a reliable indicator of impairment. Conducting the test properly requires meeting certain factors that can cause nystagmus even in sober individuals, such as medical conditions or fatigue.

In addition, a skilled criminal defense may challenge the validity of the HGN test results in court, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

Other field sobriety tests

The HGN is one of numerous tests law enforcement officers can use to determine impairment. If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, the officer may also ask you to perform other field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand test. Remember that you have the right to refuse these tests, and it may be in your best interest to do so.

Facing criminal charges

If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence in West Virginia, it is essential to understand the evidence that may be used to build the prosecution’s case, including the HGN test. While this test is commonly used by law enforcement, it is not always reliable and may be challenged in court.