In December 2014, the Washington State Supreme Court held that the HGN field sobriety test, which can indicate physical signs of alcohol consumption, cannot by itself establish impairment. On August 28, 2011, Washington State Patrol Trooper Stone observed Ryan Quaale driving his truck 56 mph in a 25mph zone on a residential street. Continue reading
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