See a simulation of how alcohol impairs your coordination by @JillCiminillo

This is a video taken of Chicago-based car reviewer Jill Ciminillo of Auto Matters attempting to perform the “walk and turn test” while wearing an alcohol impairment simulation suit.

The suit was designed by Ford Motor Corporation to show how alcohol impairs your motor skills and coordination. Ford has been taking the suit to high schools across the country to demonstrate to teens how alcohol impacts their ability to drive safely.

In the video, Jill wears goggles which blurs her vision, headphones which impairs her hearing to and wears unbalanced body weights which make her wobbly and uncoordinated.

You can try it yourself by going to the Ford Motors Display at the Chicago Auto Show.

Read more about the impairment suit here.  You can get information about the Ford Driving Skills Academy here.

Follow Jill on Twitter at @JillCiminillo

What should you do if you are requested to do field sobriety tests?

Here is a link to an article entitled “What are the Strategies for Dealing With Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois” for the legal publishing company Nolo.com.

You will find some useful strategies in case you unfortunately come across this situation some day.

Here is the url:  http://dui.drivinglaws.org/dui-illinois-field-sobriety-test-strategies.htm

Dash Cam Videos raises questions about NJ pol’s DUI arrest

Video: Moriarty says officer falsified reports

DUI is a strange sort of crime, because so many DUI arrests are based totally on a police officer’s discretion.  While probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear DUI is that of a falling down drunk who gets behind the wheel of a car and causes a horrible crash, the reality is that most DUI arrests do not involve an accident, and a substantial percentage of them consist of people who are barely to slightly affected by alcohol.

But then there is a whole subsection of DUI cases where the person was not under the influence of alcohol, perhaps did not even drink at all.  This is because a DUI case can be entirely based upon an arresting officer’s say-so.

In other words, if an officer claims, honestly or not, that he or she believed that the defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol, that is sufficient for a DUI arrest, and an automatic license suspension.  In Illinois (and most states) that license suspension will be upheld even if the person is found not guilty, so long as the officer was reasonable in his or her (mistaken) suspicion.  The ramifications of a wrongful arrest can follow a person for life.

Which brings me to the latest documented example of police abuse, from New Jersey.  Luckily for Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, there was dash cam video of the stop and arrest, which should vindicate him.  Without the video, it would be his word against the arresting officer.

The video is quite remarkable.  When it begins, the officer positions his squad car on a median facing oncoming traffic.  The Assemblyman’s Murano drives past doing nothing remarkable.  Yet the officer makes a u-turn (driving over the sidewalk), runs a red light (without using his lights or siren) and drives at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (in a 25 mph zone) to catch up with him.  When the officer does catch up, he doesn’t pull over the Assemblyman.  Instead, he stays behind for a while, while the Murano moves along slowly in traffic.  It is only when the Assemblyman made a right turn that he gets pulled over.

I can’t seem to figure out how to embed video on WordPress, but you can view all the dash cam video at NBC Philadelphia’s website at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Police-Release-Surveillance-Video-of-Paul-Moriarty-Arrest–174953311.html

Upon being pulled over, Moriarty is told by the officer that he had cut him off.  This is a lie.  It is true that Moriarty did not get over into the right turn lane until just before he turned.  However, there were no cars (including the squad car) in the right hand turn lane, so no one was “cut off.”

During the initial interaction, the officer lies to Moriarty and treats him in an accusatory fashion.  Moriarty seems stunned to be accused of drunk driving, and cannot believe he is being asked to do field sobriety tests.  From what is visible on the video, Moriarty does not seem to be impaired.  He is not confused, his speech is normal, he maintains his balance, he is able to stand on one leg for the required 30 seconds (and it seems like he could have kept on standing like that for quite a while) and (to the extent it is on the video) he walks the line fine. For this he was arrested.

According to news reports, Moriarty refused a breath test, but seven hours after the arrest, went for a blood test which revealed no alcohol in his system.  This is persuasive to me, since alcohol eliminates from the blood system at a rate of about 0.01 an hour, so if he was over 0.08 at the time of arrest he would still have some alcohol in his system at the time of the blood test.

From my review of the video, it is clear that Assemblyman did nothing wrong, did not drive in an impaired fashion and was not drunk.  It is equally clear that for some unknown reason, this officer used his badge and authority to pick the Assemblyman’s vehicle out of traffic, conduct a baseless stop, make false accusations, make a wrongful arrest, inflict emotional distress, damage the Assemblyman’s reputation and put him at risk for a license suspension and criminal conviction.

Yet more evidence of why Chicago Police officers were sabotaging their own dash cam equipment.

DUI App of the Day

The other day I was out with my wife.  After she had two margaritas, she wondered what her blood alcohol level was (don’t worry, she wasn’t driving).

If only I knew about this new iphone app.  Here is a youtube video about “Breathaleyes” which claims to determine your BAC based upon your eye movements (“nystagmus”) using your iphone camera.

I am dubious about the use of nystagmus to determine intoxication, since there are over 120 documented causes for it.  However, this may be a useful app to help you determine whether or not you should drive after having a couple of drinks.

Here is another video put up by the Breathaleyes people comparing their app to results from a breath alcohol test:

Videos, Part 2 — What do you think?

Before reading today’s post, please watch the dash cam video above.

What do you think?  Does this person appear drunk?

This arrest features the same officer whose dash cam video appeared in yesterday’s youtube embed (note:  I am not the person or persons responsible for putting these two videos on youtube; I merely found them during a search of the site).  You can also see a second officer in this video who is another high-volume Chicago DUI officer.  At their peak, these two were probably responsible for around 200 DUIs per year apiece.

My thoughts — and I don’t know anything more about this case than what is contained in this video — is that this man does not appear to be drunk.  He does not seem dazed or confused, his walking and standing seem steady, and he seems to do very well on the field sobriety tests.  He does three tests, and seems to ace each of them:

Walk and turn:  By and large he walks back and forth, heel to toe, on an imaginary line without swaying or staggering

Finger to nose:  he closes his eyes and keeps his head back without losing his balance, and touches the tip of his nose with his hands, using the correct hand as instructed, without acting slow or confused — even after the officer has dressed him down in a manner that would leave most stunned.

One Leg Stand: he is able to stand on one leg, without losing his balance.

I will admit that sometimes a video does not reveal everything — how was his driving?  did he smell of alcohol?  was there open alcohol in the car?  did he take a breath test and what was the result?  But often, seeing a video reveals a lot that can be missed when an officer testifies in court using dry jargon about “clues of impairment.”

You see, this officer could honestly testify that this man failed the “walk and turn” test. That is because failure on this test is based on the officer observing at least three “clues” and this man starts before instructed, walks the incorrect number of steps, stops at one point and does not walk heel to toe on each step.  If there wasn’t a video, it would sound like he did pretty poorly.  The video shows that not only did this man keep his balance while walking heel to toe on an imaginary line, he did so while the officer was constantly making loud and threatening interruptions that seem to be designed to throw him off.  I wonder how Tiger Woods would do if he had to put while a large, intimidating cop yelled at him to look at his feet!

Look again closely.  See the look in this man’s eye after the officer yells at him for chewing gum.  It is a mixture of fear and resignation.  Imagine being in this man’s shoes, trying to perform these field tests after that.  Yet, somehow he goes on, does an excellent job, and still gets arrested.  All the while, the other officer remains silently in the background, never suggesting that the arresting officer is acting unprofessional or that he has some doubt as to whether the motorist should be arrested.

What do you think?

More to come …