Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Nostradamus now used to predict DUI?

The 'Nostradamus' test
by Sergeant Foster Mayo
Michael de Nostradame was born on December 14, 1503 at St. Remy in Provence, France. Happy belated 501st birthday, Michael!
Nostradamus (the Latin version of his name) is best known for his work, The Centuries, which he began in 1554. The Centuries have remained constantly in print for over 400 years, though of late, mostly in the tabloids with wild interpretations of his predictions about the end of the world, UFOs, and the return of Elvis, etc..
People in law enforcement have “inquiring minds” too, but are more likely to read boring, but more relevant, reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their predictions are more frightening than the possibility of Elvis returning:
Out of a random 100 drivers, 25 will drive DUI during any given year.
The typical DUI violator commits that offense about 80 times per year.
If alcohol is involved, an accident is 9X more likely to result in a fatality.
NHTSA sponsored University studies during the 70s and 80s that brought about standardization in the techniques of identification and apprehension of drunk drivers. From these studies, law enforcement has adopted a technique of identifying an impaired or drunk driver, which sounds similar to Nostradamus, but is very different, called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking in the eyes, which is common to all of us. Alcohol, and other depressants, inhalants, and PCP, impair the small muscles in the eyes and enhance the nystagmus until it is readily visible to the naked eye of the observer. While often thought of as a “test” it is a quick and highly effective method to determine if a driver is impaired or can safely negotiate their vehicle. This painless screening technique is often seen along the side of the roadway when a police officer is moving a pen or light in front of a driver and is asking the driver to follow it with their eyes. It can be accomplished in as little as two minutes and, along with other sobriety screening techniques used by trained police officers, has been shown to be as high as 91% reliable in determining impairment.
The descriptors “drunk” and impaired” are not synonymous. A “falling down drunk” may not be able to successfully start his/her car and may be so obviously “drunk” that friends take their keys away so they cannot drive. The impaired driver is usually convinced that they are NOT and will refuse the assistance of friends and designated drivers. Impaired drivers are more likely to take excessive risks such as speeding, passing or turning abruptly because of diminished judgment and slower reaction times.
When a police officer encounters a driver that he/she believes may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer is bound by laws and ethics to verify that the driver is safe to continue to their destination. Unless you are a CDL driver and driving a vehicle which requires a commercial driver’s license, or under 21 years of age, and NOT under the influence of other drugs, it is not a violation of the law to drive with a alcohol percentage of less than .08%. The trick is to know when the breath alcohol concentration is over .08%. Actual breath testing is time consuming and inconvenient. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and other standardized field sobriety screening techniques have proven to be a quicker and faster way to screen out the impaired drivers and allow the rest of us to proceed safely to our destinations.
While some tabloids report that Nostradamus was successful in predicting the arrival of UFOs and Elvis, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is more successful in predicting an impaired driver’s future, or at least 180 days of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Factually incorect. One can be arrested with a BAC of less than .08

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Hi Robert, Out surfing for information on dui arrest & happened upon your site. While Nostradamus now used to predict DUI? wasn't exactly spot on, it did strike a note with me. Thank you for the really good read.

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