Jersey City cops recently responded to the scene of a one-car crash, per the news. The cops claim a 30-year-old motorist drove his car up a sidewalk and into the corner of a building. They observed the motor vehicle on the sidewalk of the intersection, with the front end of the vehicle resting against a building.
But the cops did not witness the accident take place. In addition, there is nothing in the news report to indicate they have surveillance videos. Furthermore, the news does not indicate the extent of the damage either to the vehicle or the building. Indeed, the news indicates the police conducted only a brief investigation. And the news does not indicate whether the police conducted standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). Included in the battery of SFSTs is the test for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
Nevertheless, the cops charged the motorist with various motor vehicle offenses. The charges include driving while intoxicated, failure to maintain lane, careless driving, and driving while intoxicated within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Included in the battery of standardized field sobriety tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. Nystagmus means an involuntary jerking of the eyes. Although nystagmus can result from the ingestion of alcohol or certain drugs, other conditions can also contribute to this involuntary phenomena. Indeed, the causes of nystagmus fall into three general categories: vestibular nystagmus, neural nystagmus, and pathological nystagmus.
Comprised of structures within the human ear, the vestibular system is involved in balance. Motion or action to this system causes vestibular nystagmus. The types of vestibular nystagmus include rotational, post rotational, caloric, and positional alcohol nystagmus.
- Rotational Nystagmus occurs when a person spins or rotates rapidly, disturbing the fluid in the inner ear. The eyes would appear to jerk noticeably if it were possible to view them while the person is spinning or rotating.
- Post Rotational Nystagmus occurs after the person stops spinning or rotating. The eyes continue to jerk involuntarily because the inner ear fluid remains disturbed.
- Caloric Nystagmus occurs when temperatures stimulate the motion of fluids in the vestibular system.
- Positional Alcohol Nystagmus (PAN) occurs when a foreign fluid, like alcohol, that alters the specific gravity of the blood occurs in unequal concentrations in the blood and vestibular system.
Neural activities that can cause nystagmus include optokinetic, physiological, and gaze nystagmus.
- Optokinetic Nystagmus can occur when one stares at an object that suddenly moves out of sight. It can also occur after watching strobe lights, rotating lights, or rapidly moving traffic.
- Physiological Nystagmus keeps the eye’s sensory cells from tiring. This natural occurrence is also the most common type of nystagmus, and it happens all the time to everyone.
- Gaze Nystagmus falls into three categories, each occuring as the eyes move from the center position:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus occurs as the eyes move to the side. The observation of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is one of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
- Vertical Gaze Nystagmus occurs when the eyes gaze upward at maximum elevation.
- Resting Nystagmus occurs when the eyes gaze straight ahead. It can result from either a pathology or a Dissociative Anesthetic Drug.
Pathological disorders can cause nystagmus. They consist of brain tumors, brain damage, and some inner ear diseases.
Defending a person charged under the DUI statute requires the ability to analyze the officer’s administration of the tests. Of course, that requires a thorough knowledge of these tests as well as the law. And while I hope everyone passes these tests with flying colors, if the officer decides you failed, NJ Drunk Driving Lawyer Michael A. Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations on all cases involving DUI. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.