HGN Doomed By Lack Of Training
According to their own manual, the HGN, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is the most reliable of the three standardized field sobriety tests. The police are trained that it is 77% accurate at detecting subjects at or above a .10% blood alcohol concentration. But that is not the whole story.
Officers are not told that everyone (EVERYONE) has nystagmus. The presence of alcohol merely enhances or magnifies this natural effect. In addition, they are instructed that there are 40 different kinds of nystagmus. Yes, everyone – but that is somehow not important to their training. The fact that everyone has it and there are numerous non-impairing causes of nystagmus is deemed irrelevant in the decision to arrest someone. Worse yet, the police officers are given no (NO!) guidance in how to distinguish between the different kinds of nystagmus. And they get no training about what questions to ask that would help them distinguish between an impairment or a natural event. They simply don’t care! If they see it, they will use it against you. Furthermore, courts accept this in probable cause determinations.
I Know My Stuff!
It is common for the officer to present evidence obtained during an HGN test at an OVI motion to suppress to support their decision to arrest. That is why it is vital to hire an OVI attorney with the training and experience to fight for you. I have trained in the administration and interpretation of the standardized field sobriety tests. In addition to the SFSTs dealing with alcohol, I worked hard to receive my certificate in Drug Recognition Expert protocol. Twice yearly I conduct a mock motion to suppress challenging the officers to properly administer and interpret the tests.