What Field Sobriety Tests Are Administered in Utah?

Interviewer: What are the standard field sobriety tests?

Horizontal Nystagmus Test

Attorney Nebeker: The first test is the horizontal gaze Nystagmus test. We call it the pin test or the eye test. In that test, the officers are looking to see if your eyes balance. They’re looking for Nystagmus, which is indicated in the name of the test. They’re looking to see as if your eyes go back and forth, from side to side, for example, if there is a jerky motion or a small balancing movement.

Police Are Supposed to Go through a Checklist before Administering the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The officers have to be able to administer and interpret those tests correctly. Before they start the horizontal gaze Nystagmus test, they’re supposed to check for equal tracking, equal pupil size, and resting Nystagmus before they check for the clues to see if you pass or fail the test.

Many officers forget to check to make sure the eyes are tracking together, and they forget to look at the pupils to make sure they’re equal in size, and they forget to check whether the person is wearing their glasses or needs to wear their glasses or their contacts.

Omitting the Checklist Can Invalidate the Test Results

These are details that can possibly invalidate the results of that test. That’s one of the reasons we always request the DO, which is the driver’s license hearing. This is because it’s our first opportunity to cross-examine the officer and we are able to ask the officer, did you check for those things before you actually went on to administer the test?

What they’re looking for on the horizontal gaze Nystagmus test are a set of clues and there can be three clues for each eye. They’re looking for lack of smooth pursuit. When administers the test in front of each eye, he’s supposed to take two seconds out, two seconds back.

Another thing that he’s checking for is Nystagmus at maximum deviation. That’s just where he takes the pen or whatever he’s using, such as his finger, out to the far right or left of the eye, and he’s supposed to hold it there. He’s supposed to hold it there for a minimum amount of time, a minimum of four seconds. We always clarify that they did that.

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