Since 1995, the Oregon Supreme Court has allowed police officers to testify concerning horizontal gaze nystagmus. In the case of State v. O’Key, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that a police officer could testify concerning the horizontal gaze nystagmus test if the prosecution established the foundation that the officer who administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus test was properly qualified to do so, that the officer properly administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the officer accurately recorded the test results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This test is often abbreviated as HGN. DUI, (aka, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, DUII, DWI or more commonly called “drunk driving”) criminal defense attorneys throughout Oregon and including Eugene, Springfield, need to be familiar with this test in order to properly cross-examine a police officer concerning it. The Oregon Supreme Court, in its decision, made reference to a number of factors which could result in the HGN test not being accurate. These factors which might distort the results of the horizontal gaze test (HGN), include:
- That many people will have jerky eye movements with no alcohol in their system.
- That 50-60% of people exhibit gaze nystagmus indistinguishable from alcohol gaze nystagmus if they deviate their eyes more than 40 degrees to the side.
- That nystagmus is often present 50 minutes after all alcohol has left the blood.
- That nearly anything that affects the inner-ear labyrinth, including alcohol, will cause nystagmus.
- That about 3% of the population suffers from non-alcohol induced nystagmus.
- That there are 50-100 cause of non-alcohol induced nystagmus.
- That non-alcohol induced nystagmus can be caused by caffeine, nicotine, eye strain, motion sickness and hypertension.
- That sleep loss can change the angle of onset nystagmus by about five degrees.
- That moving the stimulus too rapidly can distort results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
- That strobe lights can affect nystagmus.
- That moving the stimulus slightly above the pursuit line can distort the results.
The Duvall Law Office bases its operations in Eugene, Oregon. However, we represent individuals in all surrounding courts and counties throughout Oregon, and appear in Lane County Circuit Court, Benton County Circuit Court, Linn County Circuit Court, Douglas County Circuit Court, Eugene Municipal Court, Springfield Municipal Court, Cottage Grove Municipal Court, Junction City Municipal Court, as well as in Florence and Coburg. If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your case, please contact our office to schedule an appointment: 541-345-4500.