Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes. Certain substances like alcohol and drugs can cause the eyes to jerk involuntarily. It is for this reason that law enforcement personnel conduct a test to determine whether the eyes suffer from nystagmus.
The most accurate type of nystagmus that provides an indication of alcohol impairment is horizontal gaze nystagmus. "Gaze" occurs when the eyes moves from the center position. If the eyes jerk involuntarily from side to side (horizontal) when moving from the center position there is a high likelihood that the nystagmus is caused by alcohol impairment.
Law enforcement determine whether there is HGN by having the suspect look at a pen held in front of their eyes about 12 to 15 inches from the eyes. The officer then moves the pen from side to side until the pen reaches 45 degrees. If there is HGN before 45 degrees that is a clue of alcohol impairment.
The Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test is another standardize field sobriety test conducted by Utah law enforcement. The walk and turn test consists of having the DUI suspect place his hands at his side and one foot in front of the other heel to toe on a level surface and then having him take nine steps in a straight line heal to toe, turning on the ninth step and taking nine steps back.
During the walk and turn test the office will look for clues of impairment which include losing balance, removing hands from the sides to balance better, stepping off the straight line, taking an improper number of steps, etc. If the officer recognizes some of these clues he will likely arrest the suspect for DUI.
One Leg Stand Test
The one leg stand test consists of having the DUI suspect stand on one leg on a level surface with his hands at his sides and one foot off the ground about six inches. The suspect is kept in that position for 30 seconds.
If during the 30 seconds the suspect sways while balancing, uses his arms to balance, hops, or puts his foot down there is a strong indication that the suspect is under the influence.
The three standardized field sobriety tests are used by all law enforcement agencies in Utah. If you have been charged with a DUI in Utah there are still many defenses that you can asserts. Most defenses stem from how the officer implemented the tests.
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