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NJ Field Sobriety Tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

When the police in New Jersey suspect you of drunk driving, they perform several sobriety tests to determine whethe there is probable cause to arrest you. One of them is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test.

What Is the Test?

This test is done when an officer holds his finger, pen, or other object 12 to 15 inches in front of your face and then moves it slowly towards your ear, while you follow the object just with your eyes. While doing this, he looks for three things:

  • An inability to follow the movement smoothly with your eyes
  • An inability to retain focus on the object and the jerking of the eyeball as it moves to the extreme range of peripheral vision
  • The onset of "jerking" of the eyeball before a 45 degree angle has been reached

A point is assessed for each of these characteristics for each eye for a maximum of six (6) points. A score of four or more points establishes a likelihood that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.10%.

Are There Other Tests?

This test is often performed with others, such as a One Leg Stand (OLS) Test and a Walk and Turn (WAT) test to establish probable cause to arrest you for DUI. In New Jersey, failing this test can ONLY be used to establish probable cause to arrest for drunk driving, and not actual impairment.

What Should I Do?

If you have been charged with drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation.

If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.