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  • Sobriety test question

    The other night my g/f and i got stuck in a DUI check point. She got picked, while she was doing the test they asked her to do the heel toe thing walking in a straight line, the touch your nose thing and a couple others. They also asked her for her alphabet backwards.

    My question is this. Some of that stuff like the alphabet thing i cant do sober and she couldn't do it either. She asked the LEO if he could actually do it and he said no as well. If thats the case why do yall make people do things like that. How affective is this testing if a sober person cant even pass some of it. Like for instance i cant do the heel toe thing in a straight line for more then a couple steps without falling over. How can you judge by these if someone is sober or drunk since a sober person cant do it

    Personally id probally fail a sobriety test sober due to not being able to do some of that stuff.


    for the record they sent us on our way.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • #2
    When officers are watching field sobriety tests, they are looking for clues that most people don't realize. An untrained persons idea of passing or failing a test is usually wrong. Ask any drunk, they all pass our tests . There are some people that can't complete the tests sober. There are also clues that a sober person should not show. An officer has to look at all of the circumstances before making the decision to arrest someone or let them go. The test themselves are only tools. The more clues you show on each test, the higher the probabilty is that you're legally intoxicated, but the tests are not always right.

    I personally don't like the alphabet test and have never used it, but that's just me.

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    • #3
      First of all it's ridiculous to ask someone, especially someone who might be owi, to do the alphabet backwards. Hopefully the cop was kidding! Now as for not being able to walk a straight line well not everyone's coordinated.lol
      Standard Field sobriety tests are designed for a certain reason. When you are asked to take, for example, 5 steps then to turn and walk back 4 steps it makes yo do two things at once. You have to concentrate on counting and walking at the same time. Same with touching your finger to your nose with your head back. You have to try to balance and concentrate at the same time. Most intoxicated people can't do it. Some professional drunks can do OK and they will learn their ABC's backwards just to be a smart a**, but that doesn't impress anyone.
      I hope this helps a little bit. If someone else can help explain this better I'd appreciate it.
      "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

      "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

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      • #4
        I never make people do the alphabet backward. I cant even do it. I have asked people to recited the alphabet normally, who then were too drunk to do it. Same with reciting numbers. As far as the rest of the sobriety tests. I usually know after someone takes the HGN test (eye test) if they are going to be arrested or not. The eye test is very accurate. The walk and turn and one leg stand tests are divided attention tests that require a person to perform various functions a normal unimpaired person can do easily. The walk and turn test has 8 different observations (clues), the one leg stand has 4. These are used to evaluate and build probable cause to arrest someone for DUI. There is no way a person can exhibit most or all of these clues and not be impaired (UNLESS THERE IS A MEDICAL CONDITION PRESENT). There is also a device known as a PBT or preliminary breath test. If someone, such as yourself, who cannot pass the test(s) but at the same time is not intoxicated, usually will be offered this test. THIS TEST CANNOT BE USED AGAINST YOU IN A COURT OF LAW. IT IS ALSO A VOLUNTARY TEST. Take it if it's offered. This will tell the officer that you are not intoxicated. Too many people think that this device is used to trick people into getting arrested. There is not an officer I know of who wants to arrest a person and then get to the station, give a Breath test on the intoximeter, and find out the person in sober. I dont waste my time on trying to arrest a person if they are not DUI. Usually the only people who refuse the PBT are the ones who are in fact intoxicated. In the end, if a person is not drunk, they are just not drunk. It may sound stupid, but if it aint there, it aint there.
        John 3:16

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        • #5
          The PBT test around here is KINDA voluntary. If you refuse you can get a traffic summons for "refusing a road side breath test". I only use the PBT to determine if I have to call a cab or the person is under .08 and can drive away. To many officers use this as there first test and I dont agree w that.
          The ABC backwards test is just used to see if your drunk enough to try it. Its amusing. I personally dont use it, I just ask them to say the alphabet w/o singing. I believe the officer asked your girlfriend if she could do it. A simple NO is the correct answer.
          Why cant you walk in a line heel to toe? Do you have a physical disability? If not maybe somthing is wrong with your inner ear that is throwing you off balence. It really isnt that hard. That is also the first question I ask before demonstrating a FST" do you have any physical disability that prevents you from walking in a straight line(or standing on 1 leg)"? If the answer is yes, I move to a different test and note why the person couldnt do it.
          Gonna catch em riden dirty

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          • #6
            All FST's do is prove impairment, if someone cannot complete the standard FST then they will have to give a blood or breath alcohol sample to prove DUI (BAC .08%). In Nevada by having a driver’s license you are giving something called implied consent. By driving a vehicle you are giving consent to law enforcement to take a breath or blood sample to determine alcohol levels.

            I will look up Flordia law to see if it is any different.

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            • #7
              I'm going to have to admit, DUI was not my specialty. Not that I avoided them, but there was always something else to do. As a matter of fact, the only time I got them, was if one rear ended the back of my unit
              "Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought" ~Henri Louis Bergson
              ______________________


              ComptonPOLICEGANGS.com

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              • #8
                While I was in the academy our DUI instructor did do the alphabet thing. However he didn't do it backwards or anything. He only does it when he is going to make the arrest, and what he does is he tells them to start and stop at a certain point, and in the middle of that he places them in handcuffs. He also said there are some guys who tell people they are going to do one last balancing test, and they have to lean forward, stare at a little light, and keep their hands behind their back. I kind of like that one.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mlhelleckson
                  All FST's do is prove impairment, if someone cannot complete the standard FST then they will have to give a blood or breath alcohol sample to prove DUI (BAC .08%). In Nevada by having a driver’s license you are giving something called implied consent. By driving a vehicle you are giving consent to law enforcement to take a breath or blood sample to determine alcohol levels.

                  I will look up Flordia law to see if it is any different.

                  Florida has that same law. If you refuse the test you can lose your DL on the spot.

                  She said no to it, As for me not being able to do the heel toe thing. Im just not cordinated. I have had alot of ear trouble since i was a baby (7 sets of tubes, ear infections and things along those lines). Never really considerd that to be a reason i cant.

                  Thank yall for the response. I always assumed the test was a pass or fail thing. If you couldnt do it you fail and are considered intoxicated.
                  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as doing the alphabet backwards I am sure the officer was joking around and having a laugh while his fellow employees watched. I hope he wasn't but I couldn't imagine him being serious and expecting someone to be able to complete this. I have never heard of anyone giving it backwards. If he did, and if the officer put that in the report, he would get thrashed in court by even the simplest of attorney's.

                    When giving FST we look for indicators of impairment. Like mentioned earlier the more indicators the more likely someone is intoxicated. Like anything else the more you do it the better you get. DUI's are what I concentrate on when I am not on a call. I have a great deal of experience in them and can tell relatively quick if someone has a BAC above the limit.
                    Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

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                    • #11
                      Most of this stuff isn't as black and white as it appears. While the person is concentrating on the stuff we ask them to do, we are watching other things that they are not thinking about. I'm not about to reveal all the tricks to it but it's not to see how well you can do the alphabet backwards.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Most LE agencies in TN do not deviate from the three-test battery of the HGN, Walk & Turn, and One Leg Stand. These are standardized and proven to be the most effective way to prove higher levels of impairment, particularly .08% and above. By standardized, it means they were proven in both the lab and field setting by law enforcement officers. Studies were done in 1981 (original in CA), 1995 (Colorado), 1997 (Florida), & 1998 (San Diego) using these three specific tests with very successful rates concerning decisions to arrest.

                        Officers using the alphabet are wasting time in my opinion.

                        As far as not being able to do the walk-and-turn, that strikes me as a little odd. Unless you have some type of medical condition relating to balance or coordination, I have not met anyone that couldn't do it sober.

                        The Field Sobriety tests are just another tool used in helping to determine levels of impairment. They are not the only thing we use to decide on whether we are going to arrest you for DUI.
                        I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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                        • #13
                          Personally, I stick to the standardized field sobriety tests (walk and turn, one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus) and don't throw in any additional tests. I did when I was younger, but my state's courts have not been overly supportive of permitting an officer to even testify to the results of those tests, as they are outside of the "standardized" tests.

                          And, just for the record, I can do ALL of the tests I administer, while explaining the directions, wearing in excess of 20 extra lbs of equipment, and in any weather conditions. I do it every time I explain the tests to someone on an OVI stop.
                          "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                          -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                          • #14
                            I also want to mention that Drug Recognition Experts (or DRE's) can administer other tests that have been accepted by the courts in our state. Not going to mention the specific ones, but they're out there.
                            I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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                            • #15
                              After administering SFST and the person has passed w/ flying colors I'll sometimes continue to act serious and play a lil joke with them like telling them: "OK, you're doing very well... if you can answer one more question correctly I'll turn you loose. After a short pause I'll hit them with "Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"

                              I'm careful when and with whom I'll be silly / friendly like that but it has done a lot to break tension with most of the people I've done it with.

                              Your post made me think about something... Who sits around and memorizes the alphabet backwards? As a former bartender I can tell you that we had several habitual drunks that could do it when they were waaaaaay beyond the legal limit and they could do it without missing a beat. Maybe asking someone to do it might provide a clue or indicator that you're dealing with someone who is potentially a habitual drunk. Hmmmmm...

                              Comment

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