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Horizontal gaze nystagmus test may lead to a DWI charge

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | DWI |

A Minnesota police officer must have a legitimate reason for making a traffic stop. Issues like a brake light not functioning, a radar gun registering excessive speed or an officer witnessing an unsafe lane change would generally be considered good reasons. These are just a few of many issues that constitute reasonable cause for a traffic stop. In some cases, such as if a vehicle veers out of its lane, a police officer might suspect DWI and ask the driver to take a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

An HGN test is a special type of eye test. A police officer will typically ask the driver to exit their vehicle and then request an HGN test. The driver has every right to decline to take the test.  If the driver agrees to the test, the officer will provide a series of instructions, then will closely observe and monitor the individual’s eyeballs.

If a driver’s eyeballs shake too soon, a DWI arrest may occur

To administer an HGN test, a police officer might ask the participant to track an object, such as a ballpoint pen or the officer’s index finger. The officer will move the object from left to right or up and down. The participant must use only their eyes (without moving the head) to follow the motion of the object. If the person’s eyes begin to shake erratically before reaching the maximum peripheral vision point, it is considered a failed test, which is grounds for a DWI arrest.

An HGN test is one of three field sobriety tests that Minnesota police often use to determine if they have probable cause to make a DWI arrest. These tests are subject to personal interpretation and the results are often inaccurate. A driver is not obligated to take these tests. If an arrest occurs, it is best to request legal support right away.