If an Indiana police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, he or she might ask you to step out of your vehicle. This is a typical request in situations where a driver is under suspicion of intoxication. At some point, the patrol officer might ask you to take a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
If you fail this test, you might wind up in custody for suspected drunk driving. A horizontal gaze nystagmus test is one of three common field sobriety tests that police officers often administer to determine if there is probable cause to make a DUI arrest. This particular field sobriety test is an eye test.
Taking a horizontal gaze nystagmus test
If a police officer is administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test to you during a traffic stop, he or she will ask you to track an object (which might be a pen or a finger being held up on a hand) from left to right or up and down, without moving your head. In other words, you would track the movement of the object using only your eyes. Every person has a maximum peripheral vision point.
When your eyes reach this point, they may jerk erratically. If you have consumed enough alcohol to cause intoxication, your eyes might begin to jerk before they have reached their maximum peripheral vision point. This is what a police officer is looking for as he or she observes you while you take a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. If premature jerking of your eyeballs occurs, you will fail the test.
Other types of field sobriety tests
A horizontal gaze nystagmus test is only one of several types of tests you may have to take if you’re pulled over because of suspected drunk driving. The Indiana police officer who has made the stop might also ask you to take a one-leg stance test or walk-and-turn test. No matter which type of field sobriety test you’re asked to take, keep in mind that you’re not obligated to comply.
Sober people can fail these tests as well
You might be sober when taking a field sobriety test, yet receive a failing grade. How can this happen? Perhaps you’ve always been clumsy and have a difficult time performing tasks that have to do with balance. In this case, it might be difficult for you to stand on one leg. If you stumble or put your foot down before instructed to do so, you will fail the test.
If you’re arrested for OWI/DUI in Indiana
Whether or not you consumed alcohol before driving, if an Indiana police officer takes you into custody for suspected OWI, it’s best to remain calm and go peacefully. You’ll be able to contact your family. You can also request legal support. It could take weeks or months for your case to be fully adjudicated.
A strong defense may help you secure a more favorable outcome. You do not have to handle proceedings on your own. In fact, most OWI defendants request legal representation, even before they have answered any questions of investigation.