Aggressive Defense Against DUI And Traffic Charges

Failed gaze nystagmus test may lead to DUI arrest

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | DUI |

There are typically three types of people in Hawaii: those who hate tests, those who don’t like tests but tolerate them all the same, and those who actually like taking tests. You might move in and out of different categories depending on the exact circumstances surrounding a specific test you’re taking, such as a driver’s license test, a final exam or a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

If you raised an eyebrow when you read the last part of the previous sentence because you’ve never heard of a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, you’re definitely not alone. Many people don’t know what this test is until they’re asked to take one. A horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a field sobriety test that a police officer might use to determine if he or she has probable cause to arrest a driver for suspicion of DUI.

How does a horizontal gaze nystagmus test work?

If a Hawaii police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop and asks you to step out of your vehicle, it likely means you’re suspected of impaired driving. A police officer must have probable cause to take you into custody, which is why you might be asked to submit to a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

This is a test where the officer in question will ask you to track an object, such as a ballpoint pen or his or her index finger, from left to right or up and down (vertically) using only your eyes, not your head. When a person’s eyeballs reach maximum peripheral vision point (as far as you can comfortably look to the side) the eyeballs will exhibit a tiny shaking movement.

If you’re intoxicated, your eyeballs might shake erratically before reaching their maximum peripheral vision point. Hence, a police officer who is closely observing your eyeballs as you track an object from left to right might give you a failing grade on a horizontal gaze nystagmus test if your eyeballs shake too soon.

Arrested and charged with DUI for failing an eyeball test

Failing a horizontal gaze nystagmus test is lawful grounds for a police officer to arrest you for drunk driving, especially if he or she has additional reasons, such as witnessing your tires veering over a yellow line on the road or smelling alcohol on your breath.

You are under no obligation to submit to a horizontal gaze nystagmus test or any other field sobriety test. Your license cannot be revoked for refusing; in fact, there are no legal or administrative penalties for refusing to comply. If you take a horizontal gaze nystagmus test and fail it, you may wind up facing DUI charges in court. In this case, it’s important to know your rights and how to protect them.