Articles Tagged with Alcohol

Horizontal Nystagmus is one of three common field sobriety tests currently administered by law enforcement officers across Washington State. Nystagmus is an involuntary rapid movement of the eyeball, which may he horizontal, vertical, or rotatory. An inability of the eyes to maintain visual fixation as they are turned from side to side (in other words, jerking or bouncing) is known as horizontal gaze nystagmus, or HGN. Some investigators believe alcohol intoxication increases the frequency and amplitude of HGN and causes HGN to occur at a smaller angle of deviation from the forward direction.

In administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, an officer will look for the three following clues in each eye: (1) lack of smooth pursuit, (2) distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation, and (3) onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. Continue reading

In State v. Baity, the Washington Supreme Court found the basis for HGN testing, that intoxicated people will exhibit nystagmus, to be generally accepted under Frye. Baity also addressed the admissibility of the 12-step DRE examination, of which HGN was one step, employed by police officers to detect behavior associated with certain drugs and held that it constituted novel scientific evidence. The Court also placed clear limitations on officer testimony based upon this scientific testing.

Michael Baity and Edward Arnestad were each charged in separate prosecutions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). Continue reading

In Washington State, Drug Recognition Experts, also known as DREs are regular law enforcement officer’s who have received additional training to recognize impaired drivers who are under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to alcohol.

In the 1970’s the Los Angeles Police Department developed the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP). The purpose of the program was to train officers on how to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs, and then to determine the type of drug causing the impairment. Washington State adopted the program in 1996 and currently has approximately 230 active DREs. While individual agency policies can vary on when specifically a DRE will be called, they generally investigate major collisions and when officers suspect drug involvement.

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