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Police practices in U.S. similar in snaring DUIs

Current police practices are somewhat similar across the country; through standardization the margin of error is decreased. Why is this important? Well, let’s take a look at SFSTs.

SFST stands for standardized field sobriety test. I know many may be saying, “Why is he talking about drinking and driving, we know already.” Maybe so; but then why in the last year reported, 2010, more than 1.41 million — that’s right, more than 1.41 million — DUI arrests were made, according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Out of all the children killed in a DUI-related crash, 62 percent were riding with a drunk driver.

There are about 300,000 drinking and driving incidents every day, causing 27 daily deaths. In 1982 more than 21,000 were killed in an alcohol-related crash and, in 2010, more than 10,000 were killed in an alcohol-related crash. Better, yes, but not great.

Back to SFSTs. In 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began to develop standardized methods to evaluate impaired drivers. In 1981, the battery of three exercises — horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one-leg stand — helped officers detect drivers with a .10 blood alcohol concentration.

In 1985 in San Diego, SFSTs were validated to detect a .08 blood alcohol concentration for an impaired driver. What’s that, you ask, “How accurate are the SFSTs?” Well at least a 94 percent accuracy is achieved with standardization, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

And for those who say, “I can’t do those sober.” Maybe so, but I can almost guarantee, if you’re truly sober, you won’t be going to spend the night in the big house.

Let’s get moving. “Control, 269, I’ll be 10-8 with my peeps.”

On April 28, “Caddy Shack” is alive and well. No, not the movie, but the idea of midnight golfing. Two late-night golfing aficionados were attempting to play a few par 4s with one club and two glow-in-the-dark balls. The real funny thing, the guy and gal weren’t wearing much clothing. While night golf is technically trespassing, they were sent on their way with a warning.

April 29, officers get a call regarding an intoxicated female in the area of Cottonwood Street. The male reported his wife was intoxicated, fell, hit her head and then drove off in her car. Officers found the female at the Boulder City Hospital. A few concerns were: she had a black eye and two hand marks around her neck, in addition to other marks. Officers returned and arrested the male subject for domestic battery with strangulation.

On April 30, officers responded to the area near Hemenway Park in reference to a battery. The victim changed his mind and wished not to prosecute, since the suspect apologized once we arrived. Amazing what an armed uniform person can change or deter.

May 1, an officer started the new month by getting a lobby call regarding a fraud. A person reported someone attempted to use a credit card. The reporting person was alerted by the credit card company of an unusual charge. Thankfully, the TV wasn’t shipped to England. Please, monitor your accounts; crime is afoot.

On May 2, officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle coming up Lake Mead. Something was amiss. In the famous words of Johnnie Cochran: “ If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Well K-9 Charlie was on duty and his keen sense of smell fit fine. Almost 2 pounds of Mary Jane were found. And this guy is a convicted felon. You won’t believe what else he had: two guns. Good night, big fella, three hots and a cot coming up.

May 3, a vehicle gets pulled over for having flashing blue lights. It’s not a police car. The driver was three sheets to the wind. The driver unsuccessfully completed the SFSTs. Oh yeah, this was the second time the subject was arrested for DUI. I guess once wasn’t enough. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

On May 4, Spring Jamboree is jammin’. It’s a beautiful day. A newcomer to BC dances in the park. Issue one, according to the complainant, the woman is pole dancing with no pole. Issue two, she appears to be under the influence of something. Issue three, she just moved here but doesn’t know her address and she’s 32 years old. Issue four, ah forget it, she decided to leave Spring Jamboree versus getting arrested.

As we say, so long, I just want to remind everyone, say “hi” to your neighbor and call in suspicious activity. That’s what we’re here for. See you next week BC.

Officer Jeffrey Grasso is a 10-year veteran of the Boulder City Police Department. He previously served as a police officer in south Florida for four years.

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