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Psychophysical Tests for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) Arrest

NCJ Number
M Burns; H Moskowitz
Date Published
134 pages
As part of DWI arrest procedures, tests of alcohol impairment may be used by police officers, either at roadside or in the station. Objectives of this study included evaluation of currently-used tests, development of more sensitive and reliable measures, and the standardization of test administration.
On the basis of preliminary investigations, six tests were chosen for an evaluation study. Ten officers administered the 6-test battery to 238 participants who were light, moderate and heavy drinkers. Placebo or alcohol treatments produces BACs in the range 0 - .15%. The police officers scored the performance of each test on a 1-10 scale, and on the basis of the entire battery judged whether the person should be arrested or released. All of the 6 tests were found to be alcohol sensitive, and the officers made correct arrest/release decisions for 76% of the participants. Data analysis led to recommendations of a 'best' reduced battery of tests which includes examination of balance (One-Leg Stand) and walking (Walk-and-Turn), as well as the jerking nystagmus movement of the eyes (Alcohol Gaze Nystagmus). (NTIS abstract)