Question: My wife got stopped for DUI in Roswell. She was playing tennis with some friends and they were drinking, as usual. I told her that one day she would get pulled over for drunk driving, but she didn't listen. They were drinking wine, Bloody Marys and some light beer; they may have smoked some pot and she'll occasionally do cocaine with the ladies.
When the tennis was over my wife drove her and a friend to go shopping for some clothes and jewelry and to get some food. After lunch she was stopped by the Roswell police officer. He said that she was speeding and that she almost hit another car.
My wife told me the officer asked her to get out of the car and take some tests. We both want to know why was he looking at her eyes and how does that even relate to drunk driving. We're trying to figure it out and we even asked our neighbor who has multiple DUI's. But he didn't know.
So what is that eye test for?
R.A. in Roswell, Georgia
Answer: The "eye test," which is technically called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), is part of the field sobriety test battery. The test was developed to be utilized by police officers during a DUI investigation. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors say that the HGN test is a scientifically valid method for helping determine whether or not a person is DUI.
Many medical experts, however, would disagree with this notion and would argue that police officers are often not properly trained to administer the test correctly.
Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes, which can be due to alcohol consumption. But it is not always due to alcohol intake and many people suffer from a natural nystagmus.
The HGN test involves a police officer using a stimulus (usually a pen with a light). The officer will ask the person to follow the stimulus with their eyes without turning their neck or head. The police officer is looking for that jerking motion.
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