Virginia Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designed a number of field sobriety tests used by Virginia law enforcement agencies to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. While two of these tests—the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn—measure both cognitive and physical abilities, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures the jerking of the eye that becomes more pronounced when a person is intoxicated. If you are facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges after performing the Virginia horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a skilled DUI lawyer can defend your case in an effort to avoid conviction.
When compared with the other field sobriety tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is considered the most accurate. As mentioned earlier, this test measures nystagmus, or the involuntary jerking of the eyeball. To administer this test, the officer will ask you to keep your head still while following a small object, such as a pen, with your eyes.
While you are performing this test, the officer will look for a three clues in each eye, for a total of six clues. If your eyes show distinct jerking when looking all the way to the side, if the jerking occurs before your eyes reach 45 degrees, or you are unable to smoothly follow the stimulus, these clues can be used against you. If the officer sees four or more clues, you can be arrested for DUI.
The Virginia horizontal gaze nystagmus test is not without its problems. Although nystagmus can be an indication of intoxication, a number of medical conditions and eye disorders can also cause this involuntary jerking. Without medical training, a police officer can have a difficult time determining the cause of nystagmus.
The test must also be administered properly by the officer in order to ensure its accuracy. If the officer deviates from the proper protocol, a DUI lawyer can challenge the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
As one of the top DUI defense firms in Virginia, The Law Office of Michael C. Tillotson has helped countless individuals who were charged with drunk driving secure a favorable resolution. To schedule a free Virginia DUI case evaluation, please complete our online contact form today.
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