Purpose of Practice
To provide enhanced training to law enforcement personnel regarding Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) to satisfy the courts' evidentiary standards for admitting scientific or technical evidence to assist in prosecution of DUI cases.
Description of Practice
Previously, the Montana Law Enforcement Academy offered Wet Lab training for all law enforcement personnel. Wet Lab training provided an opportunity for law enforcement personnel to learn how Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) occurs, how to administer the test, and provided an environment to view the effects of HGN in a controlled environment. The HGN test is one of three field sobriety tests that comprise the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) battery. The other two tests include the walk-an-turn test and the one-leg-stand test. Scientific evidence establishes that the HGN test is a reliable roadside measure of a person's impairment due to alcohol or certain other drugs. Due to the cost of funding the Wet Lab training, this portion was deleted from the academy training. As a result of this, DUI cases where HGN was administered by an officer that had not gone through Wet Lab training were having the results of the HGN test thrown out due to the officer not having proper training or the qualifications or experience necessary to administer the test. For this reason the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) approached the Department of Revenue to ask for funding to bring the Wet Lab back to the Law Enforcement Academy. MHP was awarded grant monies to fund three Wet Lab trainings during the 2010 year. With the Wet Lab training back in place, this will help to ensure the prosecution of DUI cases in the future.
Success or Improvements
This is the first year for this initiative so currently there is no record of success or improvement. However, it is expected that by providing this valuable training to law enforcement personnel that it will assist with the prosecution of DUl cases as they will now have received the appropriate training to meet the courts evidentiary standards and thus the results of H GN administered in the field to determine intoxication will now be admissible in court.
Evaluation of the Practice
Currently there is no evaluation process in place. The Department of Revenue will receive feedback from both the Montana Highway Patrol and the Law Enforcement Academy on whether in their opinion, this has been a worthwhile endeavor.
None no date other than the great appreciation of the Montana Highway Patrol and the Law Enforcement Academy for assisting in bringing back this valuable training tool to the Law Enforcement Academy.
Name: Lisa Scates
Agency: Montana Department of Revenue - Liquor Control Division
Address: P.O. Box 1712, Helena, MT 59624
Email: LiScates.mt.gov or AlcoholServerTraining@mt.gov