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Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

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Although it is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is not admissible in Kansas DUI criminal prosecutions. It is however, allowed into evidence in many Missouri DWI prosecutions and in Kansas administrative license and probable cause hearings. Kansas City criminal law attorney Adam Peer is trained and certified in administering the Horizontal gaze nystagmus test and can determine whether a given police officer has observed the proper protocols when administering this field sobriety test.

While Kansas, among many other states has not generally accepted the HGN test, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) considers the HGN to be the most reliable of the three standardized field sobriety tests with regard to accuracy in indicating impairment. Perhaps it is because this is the one standardized field sobriety test that people cannot practice in order to improve their performance.

When administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a police officer looks for three different signs of alcohol or drug-related impairment in each eye. There are a number of valid defenses to the horizontal gaze nystagmus test that can call into question a negative result or even have the test result excluded from evidence entirely. For example, many people have a naturally occurring nystagmus – meaning only that their eyes jerk involuntarily – generally when stressed or when viewing something at an angle. Obviously, a test that measures nystagmus as a clue of impairment cannot be relied on to indicate impairment in the presence of a naturally occurring nystagmus.

Furthermore, breaches in protocol can also offer a defense. Officers often breach protocol by improperly moving his finger, pen, or other stimulus he asks you to follow with your eyes, fails to keep your line of sight clear of lights or other rapid movement, or fails to recognize the presence of a medically induced nystagmus, a naturally occurring nystagmus or other form of nystagmus that mimic horizontal gaze nystagmus. If present, these facts can be used to fight your Kansas DUI or Missouri DWI case.

If the administering officer uses the proper protocols and properly evaluates performance of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which is uncommon, NHTSA maintains that the presence of four or more clues of impairment carries an eighty-eight percent chance that the motorist will test .08 or higher on the Kansas or Missouri breath test. Of course, this assertion is only defensible if the horizontal gaze nystagmus test was performed in accordance with NHTSA protocol.

BE AWARE: Kansas DUI law does not require you to submit to this examination by the police and neither does Missouri DWI law. There is no penalty for refusing this test at any point during the investigation or subsequent to arrest.

Kansas City criminal lawyer Adam Peer understands the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and how to defend a case containing HGN evidence. If you have been arrested for a Kansas DUI or Missouri DWI, call Mr. Peer for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Overland Park Criminal Law Attorney | Olathe Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer | Shawnee

phone icon PHONE (913) 553-4222
phone icon FAX (913) 416-4346