DUI FAQ: What’s With the Penlight?

January 26, 2017 Blog

During a field sobriety test, why does the officer shine a penlight into your eyes? The officer is checking for something called “horizontal gaze nystagmus.” In laymen’s terms, horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye that can sometimes be caused by central nervous system depressants. The movements of the eyes can be affected by even small amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream. Alcohol affects the way in which your eyes track moving objects like the officer’s penlight. When nystagmus is present, the eyes do not smoothly follow the object and instead jump from location to location and when an officer observes this and/or the nystagmus occurs sooner than 45 degrees from the center, the theory is that there is a high likelihood that there is alcohol in the system.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to have a skilled attorney on your side. Whether you’ve had multiple DUIs or this is your first offense, hiring an attorney can sometimes mean the difference between having the court impose its maximum penalty on you or having your charges dropped or reduced. Contact the Misdemeanor Clinic today, because we know that Good People Can Have Bad Days!

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