I think it’s safe to say that nobody wants a bunch of drunks driving around out there. However, how far is too far for police when it comes to the police and how they conduct DUI Field Sobriety Tests? Is it about the “numbers”, or is it about actually keeping the streets “safe”? We have shown a number of videos where the police in Carrollton, TX will claim they “smell pot” to force a drug search, now we get to see their work on DUIs.
Officer Whitney Gaspard
Carrollton Texas Police Department
CPD Facebook Page for reviews
We came across this stop already in progress where Officer Whitney Gaspard is conducting a DUI test in a local parking lot. Everything seems to be fairly standard at first, but this test seemed to be never ending. Once the suspect passes one test with flying colors, he is put through another, and another. Not only does the number of tests performed border on the absurd, the lengths in which the tests are given would seem to exhaust even the most sober of drivers.
The primary point of contention here is where they are shining the light in the suspect’s eyes. This is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). HGN Testing is a field sobriety test recognized by the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration of the federal government. The HGN test involves the police officer having the driver follow a pen with his eyes. The police officer is looking for specific responses from the eyes that show the driver is under the influence. In particular, when a person is under the influence, his/her eyes may involuntarily twitch. HOWEVER, many other things may cause this reaction as well. More detailed info on HGN can be found HERE (Admissibility of HGN Evidence) and HERE (The Robustness of the HGN Test).
This test isn’t designed to be an endurance test. It’s designed to show a very specific response to a very specific test environment. The amount of time spent by these two officers on this test seems way out of line. Either the suspect has the response or he doesn’t. Officer Gaspard’s comment of “you’re gonna go to jail one way or the other” seems to scream that they were going to arrest him no matter what, which really makes all the testing seem even more suspicious. With a few of the other tests Officer Gaspard was given, it appeared that even SHE was having trouble performing them as she was expecting from the suspect.
Here is another bit of interesting information. Officer Whitney Gaspard was awarded the “Commitment Hero Award” for exemplifying a strong overall commitment to DWI enforcement in 2013.
Officer Whitney Gaspard receives Commitment Hero Award from Asst Chief Mark Dant
That begs the question, does this video show the kind of testing Officer Gaspard was doing to get that award? If so, I think there is legitimate cause for concern.
DUI tests aren’t about reaching your goal or points set by the department, or to get an award. It’s about keeping the streets safe from dangerous drivers. Certainly, an officer who was awarded for such commitment to DWI enforcement should be able to tell within a few minutes if a person is drunk. Even standing across the parking lot, the group that had gathered watching this nonsense could easily tell this guy wasn’t drunk. Trying over and over and over to prove he is only trivializes the test, and reduces it to yet another trick used by the police.
No one should be surprised though. We have produced a number of videos where the police in Carrollton will make a claim of “I smell pot” to force a vehicle search without consent. This shows a tendency toward predetermined guilt even before any proof has been shown. In fact, of all the “I smell pot” videos we have filmed, only ONE ended with arrest, and we found out this week that our video helped to get that case dismissed. HOORAH!
Below are a few of those videos, starting with the one that ended up getting dismissed.
Sadly, yet another example of why it gets harder and harder to trust the police. It’s no longer (or perhaps never was) about protecting the people. It’s more about revenue generation, and building a police state where they lead society instead of being servants to society.