Practical Law Blog

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Field Sobriety Test During DUI Stop

If a Utah policeman pulls you over and suspects you of DUI, chances are the officer will ask you to perform a “couple of routine tests.” What he really means is, he’d like to gather evidence that you’re driving drunk; he’s going to take notes and use this against you at trial.

Don’t let the police use fake science against you. Always remember: Refuse to take the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). In Utah, there are no penalties for refusing to take the FSTs during a DUI stop. If you agree, most likely the police officer will ask you to hold your head still and follow the tip of a pen or the tip of his finger.

The officer will move his pen to your left while watching your eye movement. The officer is observing your eye movement. As shown in the video, he’s looking for involuntary eye jerks, technically called nystagmus. Because this is done from a side-to-side movement, this test is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test.

Utah law enforcement claims this happens when someone is drunk. What the police fail to mention is that many other perfectly harmless reasons can cause this eye jerk, including an improperly administered test.

We fight DUIs by taking police science head on with real science. And gradually Utah courts are understanding that the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test isn’t scientific or accurate at all.

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