Go to navigation Go to content
Phone: 770-408-1001

Georgia DUI Attorney: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test Is Not Always Accurate

One field sobriety test that a police officer may use during a suspected DUI traffic stop has had its accuracy questioned. The test is called a horizontal gaze nystagmus test which is administered by the officer shining a flashlight on your eyes while you follow his finger or another object. This procedure supposedly determines sobriety by the officer observing twitching movements of the eye. Although this test has been studied and deemed an accurate way to detect intoxication, it is far from perfect.

Four issues with the test that might lead to wrongful DUI charges:

  • Several physical issues can cause nystagmus. Perhaps the biggest flaw in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is that nystagmus is not caused solely by toxicity in the blood. You can be absolutely sober and still fail this test if you have any number of other existing health conditions including infections, syndromes, and even eyestrain.
  • Officers may not be properly trained. A person must be properly trained to conduct the test – and administering any part of the complicated test in a wrong manner can mean inaccurate results. The main concerns are: is the officer holding the object appropriately, is the object being held at the correct angle; is nystagmus being detecting correctly; and are all of the factors being taken into account?
  • The test can be affected by bias or human error. An unfortunate reality is that a police officer does not conduct field sobriety tests on drivers whom he or she does not believe is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Too often officers go into the test thinking that they already know the answer. Unlike some other field sobriety tests, such as a blood test, the human element makes the test less accurate.
  • The test does not determine blood alcohol levels. Another issue with the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is that, while it may help detect the presence of alcohol or drugs in a person, it does not give any information regarding the blood alcohol level of the person. Therefore, you could have nystagmus and not be over the legal limit in Georgia.

Just because you were charged with a DUI does not automatically mean that you were breaking the law. Before you make any decision regarding your case, speak with an Alpharetta DUI attorney about your arrest. To schedule an appointment at the Law Office of Scott Miller, call us today: 770-408-1001.