Police Officers Pour on the Training in Shaler

Article excerpt

Police from all over Allegheny County gathered recently at the Shaler municipal building for training in how to administer standardized field sobriety tests.

The training was part of a three-day course that updates police in the region on how to properly administer the tests and what to look for to determine if a driver is drunk.

"We hold them as frequently as we can get them put together," said Cathy Tress, Western Pennsylvania law enforcement director for the Pennsylvania DUI Association.

The training isn't targeted at learning to identify drivers who are "hammered" as much as helping officers to spot the drivers who are a little "buzzed."

"The buzzed drivers are the most dangerous on the road," Tress said. "They're the risk takers."

The sobriety test is done in three parts. First, the officers have drivers follow a pen with their eyes. During this test, officers are watching the eyes of the drivers for involuntary jerking of the eyes, one visible sign of impairment.

After that, drivers are asked to walk in a straight line, heel to toe. Then they're asked to turn around and walk back.

Lastly, drivers are asked to stand on one foot and maintain their balance.

These sobriety tests have been the national standard for the past 20 years since members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did group studies to determine the most accurate method for measuring impairment.

The training sessions use real people for the best real-life simulations. Volunteers are asked to come in and drink so that police can administer the tests. …