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"Detective You": Conduct a DUI/DWI investigation over the holidays.

Ever wonder if you or your friends are too impaired to drive? Ever needed to convince a friend or relative that they drank too much spiked egg nog to drive and may be DUI ? Have some fun this holiday season with some friends and administer the sobriety exercises yourself?

Now, before we begin this fun holiday exercise, keep in mind that we do not sanction these exercises as a legitimate way to test one's impairment level to determine if a person is DUI/DWI. Why that would contradict every thing we say in court when defending our clients. But the police do. And boy, do they love these exercises. They make arrest decisions based on the way people perform them, so in that regard it may be a good idea to see how you or your friends and loved ones might do.

Okay, so just focus on the three main (standardized) exercises. Remember, officers in the field receive formal training on the proper administration of these exercises so please don't feel like this blog will "certify" you as a DUI officer. But that doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Okay, let's get started.

So you are hanging by the door and Aunt Molley comes stumbling towards the door with her keys in her hand. You stop her. In years past you would simply say, "you shouldn't drive". This year you'll say "Ma'am, I'd like to make sure you are okay to drive" (Check out our recent blog where we discuss whether or not these exercises are mandatory). Then prove to her that Uber is the better option.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (eye test) exercise. Law enforcement believes this exercise can assist in determining if one's BAC level is over the legal limit by observig the involuntary jerking of the eye ball. Many states, including Florida, deem this exercise to be quasi-scientific in nature. The results aren't even admissible in court unless the officer is a certified Drug Recognition Expert. But this is just for fun, so here's what you do. This will be an abbreviated version because the real instructions can be somewhat tedious. Have the person stand with their feet together, arms at their sides and face straight forward. Hold up your finger, or a pen approximately 12 to 15 inches in front of the person's nose and slightly above eye level. Instruct your aunt to follow your finger/stimulus with their eyes only and keep their head still.  

Then move it from left to right trying not to go beyond the edge of their shoulders. Do this several times on and even plane to determine if the person's eyes are moving smoothly. If they are moving in a jerking fashion then that's what officers are looking for. They call this "lack of smooth pursuit". In the field they will check each eye separately, but again we are keeping this simple.

The other clue you can look for is what is known as "distinct and sustained nystagmus". Once again position your finger or stimulus out as described above. Simply move your finger to the right and hold it out approximately 45 degrees (edge of the shoulders) for 4 to 5 seconds. If the person's eye ball begins to jerk as you hold your finger/stimulus there, then according to police, the person may be impaired. Continue to move it back and forth until you have a good feel for whehter or not you are observing the nystagmus. Watch also to see if the person is following your instructions by keeping their head still. If they continue to move it, police would also count that against the person. Also, police will watch to see if the person is swaying during the exercise.

Walk and Turn: Okay, find a line in the carpet or get a piece of masking tape and put it down and out 10 to 12 ft. Again, this will be somewhat of an abbreviated version. Have your friend Jack Daniels stand at the end of the line with his right foot in front of his left in a heel to toe fashion with his arms at his side while you give him the following instructions (watch to see if they can maintain that position). Tell them not to begin until you are done with the instructions. If they try to start before then, cuff him. Cops hate that.

You say (while demonstrating), "when I tell you to begin, I want you to take 9 heel to toe steps down the line with your arms at your side counting out each step. On the 9th step I want you to turn around (demonstrate for them) by keeping one foot on the line and with the other foot take a small series of steps as you turn around and walk back down the line in the same exact manner for another 9 steps."

Clues of impairment that police are looking for include 1) if the person starts too soon or can't maintain balance in instruction phase, 2) if the person stops, 3) if the person misses heel to toe, 3) if the person steps off the line, 4) if the person raises their arms while walking, 5) improper turn, 6) whether they are counting out loud, and 7) if they take the correct number of steps." Usually just two clues on this exercise is deemed by police to be deficient performance.

One Leg Stand: This one is simple. Tell the person to stand with feet together (as you demonstrate), arms at their side and when you tell them to begin you want them to raise one leg 6 inches off the ground with their foot parallel to the ground. You want them to look down at their foot while counting out loud "1001", "1002", etc all the way up to 30. If they put their foot down, tell them to re-raise it and continue. Clues on this exercise include 1) swaying, 2) raising arms, 3) hopping, 4) putting foot down, 5) can't count correctly. Again, if the officer observes 2 clues, they're goign to be suspicious.

And there you have it. You are now ready to play officer Friendly at your next holiday party. Remember to be careful if playing this role as those who are obviously drunk should not partake as they could hurt themselves. Also, remember once again that even if someone appears to do well on these exercises, it doesn't mean they are okay to drive. Do not offer any "guarantees'! Bottom line is that no one should imbibe in more than a few and then drive. Check out our website for more info on DUI exercises or visit out DUI dedicated website for DUI FAQs.

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to be offered as legal advice nor does it purport to be a trustworthy source of sobriety exercise administration and the instructions set out above are not the actual standardized instructions offered by NHTSA.

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