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What is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test?

Have you ever wondered what really happens when a police officer suspects that you or another driver may be intoxicated? Just how does an officer gather what is considered to be evidence to support making an arrest for imparied driving? One of the things that you may be asked to do if you are suspected of being drunk while driving is to submit to what are called field sobriety tests.

As explained by, these tests are not meant to determine for a fact that you are or even are not drunk. Instead, they are meant to provide enough clues that support your potential intoxication and therefore warrant placing you under arrest. One of these tests is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus. A nystagmus is a natural twitching of the eyeball that is said to be more pronounced after someone has consumed alcohol.

In this test, which is said to have an accuracy rate of only 77 percent, an officer will move an object and require you to follow it with your eyes only. You will not be allowed to move your head at all. The movement of your eyeball as you track the object will be evaluated. If any twitching is noticed at what may be deemed a premature point, you may be at risk of failing this test.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is intended to give Virginia residents an overview of one of the three types of standardized field sobriety tests used during the drunk driving arrest process.

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