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What is the eye field sobriety test?

If you or someone you know has been charged with a driving under the influence offense in Rhode Island, it will be important for you to fully understand the arrest and criminal defense process. Once you have been stopped by an officer for whatever reason, you may be asked to take certain tests if that officer suspects that you may be impaired by drugs or alcohol. These tests do not and cannot prove that you are intoxicated. However, they can provide legal support for an officer to place you under arrest for a DUI. 

According to, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved three specific tests to be used for the purposes of investigating a potential impaired driving offense. One of these is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Some people call it the eye test. This is because a nystagmus is a specific type of motion similar to a jerk that the eyeball naturally makes. This motion is totally involuntary and unable to be controlled by a person.

If you must take this test, you will be asked to follow with your eyes only as the officer moves it slowly from one side to the other. You cannot move your head at all. How smoothly your eyes follow the object and when the nystagmus happens may contribute to whether or not you pass this test. It is said to be 77-percent accurate.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give drivers in Rhode Island an overview of the horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test and how accurate it may or may not be.

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