Week 8 of the local citizen’s police academy covered Motor Vehicle Crashes and DWI.
Here’s a description from fatalvision.com: The internationally popular hands-on prevention tool used to educate people of all ages about the consequences of alcohol misuse and abuse. Fatal Vision® Goggles use special lens technology that allows the wearer to experience a realistic simulation of impairment.
They’re definitely powerful learning tools. After seeing demonstrations by the officers about the side-of-the-road screenings to assess driver impairment, we were encouraged to try on the goggles and try to perform any of the screenings.
I’m quite susceptible to motion sickness and seldom drink (also never drink and drive), so wasn’t enthusiastic about trying goggles that would make my vision wacky (my technical term). But I tried a pair that gave me the experience of having a BAC (blood alcohol level) of .07-.10 (with .08 being the legal limit in NH for most drivers, .04 for commercial drivers, and .02 for drivers under 21.)
It was no surprise that I couldn’t take one straight step with the goggles on. Looking out the goggles was similar to looking through a round fish bowl. The edges of my vision were curved in line a capital “C”. I could see the floor and make out the tiles, but couldn’t take a straight step. I looked a lot like the guy in the photo (couldn’t get my feet to cooperate and my arms were flapping around).
Other folks in the class were more daring and tried the .12-.15+ BAC goggles and even the .25+ BAC goggles. No one could walk a straight line, and it’s okay to say that everyone got a lot of laughs watching others trying to walk, nevermind try to pass the assessments.
Some states use these goggles during driver education classes. I think it should be a mandatory requirement in all states for all drivers.
If you’re writing about NH, an important point to know is that an officer has to tell a driver if he/she is going to be arrested before asking him/her to do a PBT (portable breath test).
If the driver has performed all assessments successfully and the officer has no grounds for an arrest, but feels there is something off with the person, it’s entirely possible for the officer to say, “I’m not arresting you for being under the influence. Will you consent to taking a PBT anyway?”
A lot of people can be so accustomed to drinking that they’re functional. For instance, if a young woman is pulled over and the officer discovers she’s a gymnast, chances are good she can pass the assessments even if she’s drunk, simply because she has the physical skills ingrained.
Alcoholics can pass as sober. But an officer can’t, in good conscience, let someone drive off if he feels the driver is impaired somehow.
If the situation arises where an officer tells a driver no arrest will be made, and the driver agrees to a PBT and blows over the legal limit, the officer will make sure someone else drives the person home. And arrangements would be made to get the car home.
Week 8 was another interesting night, and it’s hard for me to be brief even when covering just one small part of the night!
Next week is about drugs – illegal drugs, investigations, and task force. And K-9 officers. More fun stuff!
If you’ve ever tried the goggles, I’d love to know the circumstances.