Are you one of many Kentucky motorists whose license lists a vision restriction, perhaps stating that you must wear corrective lenses while you drive? You may also be among those who say they struggle to see clearly at night, especially if there is rainfall or streetlights causing a glare in front of them. You obviously need to see well to successfully and safely operate a motor vehicle.
If a police officer pulls you over for speeding and you claim you didn't see the posted speed limit sign, you may wind up getting a ticket. If you're lucky, perhaps the officer will issue a warning and release you without further repercussion. There are other vision issues, however, that can greatly impact the ultimate outcome of a traffic stop, especially if the officer thinks you've been driving under the influence of alcohol.
How much do you know about the horizontal gaze nystagmus test?
When a police officer suspects you of DUI, he or she has several options to help determine probable cause to make an arrest. You can assume things aren't going so well in your traffic stop if the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle. If the next request involves a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, you are likely already at risk for arrest. The following facts are things you should know about this and other field sobriety tests if you hope to protect your rights:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures your eye movements when a police officer asks you to track an object he or she is moving in front of you horizontally.
- The police officer will usually instruct you to use only your eyes, not your head, when tracking the object.
- An HGN test allows the person administering the test to observe your eye movements as you follow the object. Sober people's eyes typically jerk or move erratically once they reach their maximum peripheral gaze points.
- Intoxicated people's eyes tend to jerk much sooner. In fact, if your eyeballs bounce around or flit back and forth before the object you are tracking moves 45 degrees in one direction, the officer may consider it probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
- Police often administer this test in conjunction with two others: the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stance test. If you fail all three, you're probably heading to jail.
The HGN or other field sobriety assessments can be very problematic for many Kentucky drivers, especially those whose balance skills are lacking, even when they're sober. So too, you may have an eye condition or past injury that impedes your ability to perform well on such tests.
The good thing is that DUI charges do not constitute guilt. Prosecutors must prove you have committed the crimes they have accused you of and you may take advantage of any and all defense options available to try to avoid conviction.