Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More on the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) in New Jersey...

One important thing our Bergen County attorneys (in divorce, family, employment, criminal law) want you to know about the HGN is that you cannot "fail" the HGN. The HGN is not a test, but an exercise meant to help the officer check if there may be probable cause for a DUI arrest. The results are somewhat subjective, and your defense should view them carefully to see if there may have been errors. The officer records their observations in the police report which is used if there is a DUI case brought against you.

The officer will observe and record the following:
  • 1.)  Involuntary Motions of the Eye Whether you can follow the object with smooth motions of both eyes.
  • 2.) Distinct Nystagmus when object held on one side – The officer moves the object to the side, drawing the eye as far to one side as possible, and holds it there for at least four seconds. The officer looks for distinct and sustained jerking of the eye. The officer holds the object at this point for at least four seconds to ensure that quick movement of the object did not cause any jerking that is observed. This is performed on each side.
  • 3 – Ability to follow instructions – Whether you follow the instructions as given to you- for example, if your head moves while you are attempting to follow the object with your eyes when you were instructed to hold it still-this is recorded in the police report as a sign of possible impairment.
  • 4 – General demeanor – Throughout your interaction, the police are observing and recording you. They are noting whether you seem cooperative, compliant, and polite. It is important to remain calm and be respectful. If you seem resistant or belligerent this may be used against you.

If you have been arrested for DUI, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid penalties including fines, loss of driving privileges, or jail time. If you had an HGN administered, your attorney will investigate to see whether it was done accurately and according to procedure.

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