In Maryland, you may be asked to perform a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test if an officer suspects you may be under the influence of alcohol during a traffic stop. In Schultz v. State, the officer who conducted the test on the appellant defined the HGN test as: “You measure each eye separately and one point is assessed as the object is passed in front of the eye, if it doesn’t move smoothly, that’s a point. Once you get to the 45 degree angle, if there’s a quiver in the eye, that’s a point; if there’s not, then there’s no point, and when you get to the furthest point, again, if there’s a moving or a jumping of the eyeball, that’s a point. If there’s no movement, then there isn’t.” The higher the score (maximum is 6 points), the more likely it is that the driver is intoxicated.
Schultz appealed his DUI conviction based on the admissibility of his HGN test results. There was no chemical evidence in his case; only the testimony of the officer who conducted his field test. The court confirmed that the HGN test results were indeed admissible, but reversed his alcohol-related convictions based on the record not reflecting that the officer was properly trained or certified to give the test. According to the NHTSA manual, which outlines HGN testing, it can be assumed that officers who are “well-trained” will know how to properly give the test and will know that factors other than alcohol can affect the results of the test.
If you have been charged with DUI or DWI, call Azari Law at 301.362.3300 to schedule a consultation today.