The Nov. 15 Style article by Brigid Schulte was interesting and informative, but it did not adequately educate the public and did not provide an important detail about the field sobriety tests used by the police to determine driver impairment.
The article left readers with the impression that the tests are compulsory. They are not. The tests are voluntary. No driver needs to take them, and every driver can decline to do so. The police will not tell you this, and because you are not under arrest, they need not warn you about self-incrimination. After all, they are looking for probable cause to make an arrest. Therefore, if you volunteer information about having had "one glass of wine or beer," do not be surprised if you are asked to step out of the car and asked to take the test. Remember that you need not answer a police officer's question ("Have you had anything to drink?") or submit to a field sobriety test.
If you tell a police officer that you have been drinking and voluntarily take the tests and fail them, then do not be surprised if you are arrested and find yourself in the pokey.
-- Elek J. Szkalak
I was disturbed by the comedic one-liners in Brigid Schulte's article: "hokeypokey," "jerking eyeball," "voodoo science," "30 seconds ramrod straight" and "the holy grail." I'm sure that the mother of the motorcyclist who was killed in a head-on collision by a suspected drunken driver finds comfort in these comments.
Schulte failed to note that functional alcoholics and athletic people perform very well on field sobriety tests, even if they are well above the legal limit for blood alcohol content. The one observation that by itself is the greatest indicator of intoxication is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, yet it was given only one short paragraph about a "jerking eyeball."
-- James Ross