So far we have learned a few lessons from our wetlab results. First, and maybe most importantly, this experiment was for fun, not for scientific results. If we wanted more accurate results, we would have to do a better job of controlling the environment. But, it did show us that people who are socializing and drinking do not do a very good job of monitoring their intake even when they know they are supposed to be paying attention. And, people tend to underestimate the amount they are ingesting. We also learned that it is important to know when a person’s last drink was taken. Participant 6 offered another lesson (that we knew as DUI defense attorneys, but Participant 6 did not know until after the fact) …
Participant 6 is a 24 year old female. She is 5’2″ and weighs 115 lbs. She told us she drinks weekly and has approximately 3-5 drinks during a sitting. Before the happy hour, she had eaten a smoothie, a greek yogurt and a quesadilla. Before the happy hours, she performed the roadside tests and passed, but was the first person who showed any clues on the pre-happy hour tests. She showed 1 clue out of 4 on the one leg stand. She did tell us, after she performed the test, that she had hip surgery, which could explain her difficulty performing this test.
She drank 2 glasses of wine during the first 30 minutes and had a PBT result of .08. She drank another glass of wine in the next 30 minutes. At this 60 minute mark, she had a PBT result of .171. She failed all of the roadside tests when she tried them this time. She showed 4 out of 6 clues on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, 2 out of 8 clues on the walk and turn and 1 out of 4 clues on the one leg stand. At the 90 minute mark, this participant reported having one more glass of wine. Her PBT result was a .235.
After learning of the second roadside test results, this participant expanded on the information she gave us earlier about her hip surgery. The surgery was relatively recent (recent enough that she was still doing physical therapy). This surgery would likely not account for the clues on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Her performance on the walk and turn was perfect before she started drinking, but she did show a couple of clues on the walk and turn after she started drinking. This might lead one to believe that the surgery had no impact on this maneuver, but certainly the surgery could have exaggerated her performance on this test.
During a real DUI investigation, a person would not have the benefit of performing the roadside tests before and after drinking, so the police do not have the ability to compare and contrast the test results. However, the lesson learned by this participant is that it is important to tell the officer about any and all medical conditions and details about those medical conditions so that the officer has the information. Giving the information after the fact might make it seem like you are making excuses once you’ve realized you did not perform the tests well.