Driving with snow, ice and glare is hard enough during the winter months. However,drunk drivers pose an unreasonable risk of harm to other motorists, bikers and pedestrians on Northern Virginia roads. The Herndon Oak Hill Connection reported that the Fairfax County Police Department started their "Safe December" campaign last month, which means increased DWI patrols, checkpoints and police presence on the roads. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, they have arrested 2,493 drunk drivers in 2010, and have investigated 660 crashes involving impaired driving. Historically, December DWI arrests have been as much as 78 percent above average for the rest of the year.
Officer Kyle Proffitt is one of the officers who has been assigned to DWI patrol during the midnight shift for the Reston Police District. Officers on that patrol are trained to search for signs of drivers who might be impaired. The three field sobriety tests that are admissible in court in Virginia are:
- the ABC test, where the subject slowly and purposefully says the entire alphabet,
- the one-leg stand, where the subject stands on one foot and extends the other leg out and counts, and
- the walk-and-turn, where the subject walks heel-to-toe in a straight line, turns around and comes back.
Throughout each test, the officer is watching the subject’s performance and taking notes. If the subject looks questionable on the test, the officer will ask the subject to take a preliminary breath test, which measures the blood alcohol content. "If they are sober, but fail the field tests, the PBT can prove that they’re not intoxicated, and they can go," Proffitt said. If they fail the tests, they are taken to the Adult Detention Center in Fairfax for Processing. Those suspected of drunk driving are taken to the Alcohol testing unit, where the official BAC reading is made utilizing the Intoxylizer machines. After this testing, criminal prosecution and civil liability can follow.