When the cops pull you over, and tell you they are going to do an eye test, you have the right to say, “No thank you.” This is not a required test. This is not a mandatory test, even if you have had a beer or two. Instead, what the Georgia State Patrol or police officer is trying to do is make you submit to a voluntary field sobriety test, to show you are impaired, and arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI). You have rights, including the right to refuse a field sobriety test, and the right to have a DUI defense attorney represent you if you are arrested for a DUI.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
The name of the roadside eye test is actually called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN). What this really means is, “a test to look for jerking eye motion as you watch a pen go back and forth.” This test, along with two other standardized field sobriety tests, were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a way to see if a person is intoxicated without having to test a blood or breath sample. The problem is that all of these tests have flaws, and even sober people “fail” these tests all the time.
What the Cops are Looking For
During an eye test, the police are trained to look for the specific angle where the jerking movement, or “nystagmus,” occurs. They will ask the driver to follow an object with their eyes, back and forth. The nystagmus is involuntary, so the driver won't notice it, but the officer will. Of course, nystagmus occurs naturally even when sober, when the eyes are rotated to high angles. In many cases, when a driver is impaired from alcohol, the jerking may occur at lower angles. So the police look for three things during an HGN test:
- The eye doesn't follow the moving object smoothly;
- Jerking of the eye at the maximum rotating deviation; and
- If the angle of eye jerking is within 45 degrees of the center.
The police receive specialized training to learn how to do these field sobriety tests. However, DUI defense lawyers can also take the same training as the police, and learn what the police are supposed to do, and what happens when the police don't follow the required instructions. That means a lawyer specializing in DUI defense is in a better position to cross-examine police, and question their eye test findings.
The Correct HGN Eye Test
After doing hundreds of thousands of field sobriety eye tests, you may think the police know exactly what they are doing. However, doing so many tests, they may start to slip up, make mistakes, give the wrong instructions, move the pen too fast, or not record the right angle, which could result in someone being arrested for drunk driving when the test is really worthless.
Sometimes, the police may just think someone is drunk without even considering the tests, and they won't accurately observe the results, which means they haven't even given the driver a fair chance to pass the test. Luckily for you, when the cops haven't given the right instructions, or didn't observe the test, this information can be utilized by a skilled DUI defense attorney to get the results thrown out of court.
Atlanta Roadside DUI Defense Lawyer
Even if you failed the eye test, and any of the other field sobriety tests does not mean you should be convicted for a DUI. You have rights, and these unfair and inaccurate tests should not be used to give you a criminal record, and lose your driver's license. Call Lawson and Berry to challenge the DUI charges against you. We understand what these field sobriety tests really mean because we had the same DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing as our local police officers.
You can call our office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The police work around the clock to arrest people for drunk driving. That's why we keep the same hours. Give me a call so we can talk about how to beat your DUI charges.