Columbus Police and other Ohio law enforcement agencies use a battery of tests to determine if a person is OVI. All of these tests are designed to gather evidence to be used against you if you are ultimately charged with DUI. Currently The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only recognizes the scientific reliability of THREE of these tests in determining whether a person is drunk driving, DUI, or OVI. These three tests are more commonly known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The first standardized field sobriety test that an officer should administer is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test aka the "the eye test."

HGN - "The Eye Test"

The scientific definition of nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes. HGN occurs when the eyes jerk involuntarily while moving from side to side. Research performed by NHTSA has shown that HGN is the most accurate test of the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in detecting alcohol impairment. 

Officers look for three specific clues when testing HGN. I will spare you the boredom of discussing the procedures used to detect the three HGN clues and give you a brief (very brief) summary. Basically you follow a "stimulus" such as a pen, finger, or flashlight with your eyes while the officer checks to see if they are jerking back and forth. The worst part about HGN is that often times you are completely unaware of the slight jerking motion that occurs in your eyes when you are impaired by alcohol. 

Curious to know what an officer sees when he or she looks into the eyes of an intoxicated person? Well here it is. It should be fairly obvious that the bottom set of eyeballs belong to a person that has been drinking. . . a lot.

Warning: You may not want to watch if you are the squeamish type. 

Remember that HGN is an involuntary movement. Even if you think you can "beat" the other Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, you likely can not beat this one. Only an experienced DUI attorney can determine whether the officer administered the test correctly. Always remember you have the right to refuse Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. There are penalties associated with refusing to perform these tests, but when you refuse you limit the amount of evidence the prosecution can use against you. Furthermore, the right DUI lawyer can help avoid the penalties associated with refusing the tests.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration DUI Detection Manual 2006.


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