Additional Problems with the Field Sobriety Test
Jerald Novak: You raised a good point though with regard to the field test because the problem with the field test is not only are they designed to be failed but when they did the control study on these standardized field sobriety tests, they never used anybody over the age of 65 years old. They never used anybody who was under the age of 21. They never used anyone who was overweight. They never used anyone who had any other issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other type of issue that may take them out of the mainstream.
Sometimes people will act like they are impaired when they are not in fact impaired at all because that’s their normal state of affairs. I’m sure, we all know somebody like that who’s got a little bit of … Maybe they got a little bit of a sarcasm in their voice or maybe they are a little bit snappy or witty, or maybe they’re a little bit disrespectful, or maybe they walk to the beat of a different drummer, but if they don’t match up with how the police officer believes they should be, they’re pretty much going to jail.
Interviewer: I agree, that in a sense, if a person sees the police lights on, and my personal experience, every time I see there are lights there, automatically, it seems like my life flashes before my eyes like am I going to get pulled over, what if it’s worst case scenario, what if they ask me to do something, what if I am in trouble, what if they find something and they say, “You didn’t pay a ticket, a speeding ticket and now we get,” it’s always getting me nervous.
While I don’t have anything, while I’m fairly clean on my background, whenever I’ve been pulled over by a police officer, there is an intimidation factor that I’ve noticed and I begin stuttering, I begin being real agreeable with everything they ask me, and sometimes I have been argumentative. I’m like, “You know.” When they ask you, “Do you know how fast you’re driving?” and those questions like that. Also, emotions go through that. Have you seen similar reactions like that in some of the clients that you have worked with?
Jerald Novak: First of all, yes, I have. That’s why I can describe that as, if you got a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or a wife or a husband, and you remember when you first met that person, and you saw them across the room, and your eyes were locked, and your heart began to beat fast. Remember that feeling?
We call that love. Now, let’s put that on hold for a moment and let’s change the subject. We’re driving down the street, and all of a sudden, those red and blue lights become illuminated behind us. We look in the mirror and our eyes pretty much lock on those flashing lights and our heart starts to beat a little faster. I really don’t think we’re in love with the police officer.
Jerald Novak: I know the same feeling but it’s a whole different kettle of fish. It’s fear. What did I do? What trouble am I going to get into? Why is this person stopping me? I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to respond. They are absolutely the authority out on the street, and if I act in any way differently than his or her perception of how I should act, I may be going to jail. That’s a scary situation. People will react differently.
The problem is that the police officer will always assume the worst. They assume that you’re under the influence. They assume you’re fleeing from a crime. They assume that you have got something to hide. They’re there to question you, to frighten you, to see what information they can get out of you because, if they can get enough information, they’ll find a reason they can arrest you for. Nobody wants to be arrested.
Interviewer: Absolutely not. Like I said, the other week, I was on the phone with a friend, and then I saw police lights behind me, so I started freaking out like, “Hey, there’s a police car. There’s a car behind me. I’m going to let you go. I’m going to let you go.” They just passed me up. Just turned on the lights so they could pass me up. You haven’t done anything at all, but some people panic like that.
Jerald Novak: Heart jumps out of your chest. I think people react differently to those lights. Again, if you have anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, all those things can set you off and make you act in a way that the police officer would consider you suspicious.