We have previously discussed how the field sobriety tests are largely inaccurate, but as it turns out, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (one of the three standardized tests used by California police officers) is so wildly inaccurate that one scientific study labelled the test a “deliberate fraud.” That is why it is so important to only work with a DUI lawyer who is not only experienced, but who also keeps up on the newest news in DUI defense news.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Study Findings
The study’s results were released in the Journal of Forensic Science Society with the revealing title, “The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test: fraudulent science in the American courts.” If the headline wasn’t a big enough giveaway as to the study’s findings, here is a small excerpt of their research:
Bypassing the usual scientific review process and touted through the good offices of the federal agency responsible for traffic safety, it was rushed into use as a law enforcement procedure, and was soon adopted and protected from scientific criticism by courts throughout the United States. In fact, research findings, training manuals and other relevant documents were often held as secrets by the state. Still, the protective certification of its practitioners and the immunity afforded by judicial notice failed to silence all the critics of this deeply flawed procedure.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Accurracy
Despite the critiques of DUI lawyers around the country, many courts and police officers consider the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (the one that requires you follow the officer’s pen or finger with your eyes) to be the most important test of the three standardized field sobriety tests. According the study though, it is not only fundamentally flawed, but 95% of police officers administer the test incorrectly. The paper goes on to explain “his summary critique demonstrates that it is scientifically meretricious and that the United States Department of Transportation indulged in deliberate fraud in order to mislead the law enforcement and legal communities into believing the test was scientifically meritorious and overvaluing its worth in the context of criminal evidence.” Keep in mind, this is not something written by a defense attorney, but a group of scientists.
The Reason Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is Still Used
The researchers continue to argue that the continued use of the test is not due to its scientific validity, but to the fact that it has been used for so long that people assume it must be scientifically valid. In the study’s words, “The state’s argument for the field sobriety tests does not rest on proof of merit, but upon qui tacet consentit reasoning that those tests have been so widely accepted they must have been subjected to some kind of review prior to adoption in the many jurisdictions where they are used, that somewhere along the way someone would have spotted the flaws and shortcomings.”
You Can Fight and Win Against DUI Charges
While so many people assume that anyone charged with drunk driving must be guilty if the evidence is against them, DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss knows this simply isn’t true. In fact, it is precisely because the evidence is so unreliable despite what the prosecution would have you believe that you need to work with a skilled driving under the influence defense attorney.
If you are ready to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss to discuss how he can help you fight your drunk driving charges, please call (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by Oregon Department of Transportation