Archive for Sunday, August 14, 2011

What a DUI stop, arrest looks like

Reporter Shaun Hittle and Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Richie Labahn simulate and DUI stop and arrest.

August 14, 2011


To understand what it’s like getting pulled over for driving under the influence, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Richie Labahn and I simulated the process.

Labahn, a patrol deputy, flashes his lights behind me on a side road near the jail. It’s about 6 a.m., and a couple of interested walkers look on at the potential trouble on a quiet street.

Labahn approaches my Ford Focus.

“License and registration,” says Labahn, who’s all business. “Is this a current address?”

Labahn runs my information, and my record’s clear. But we pretend Labahn spots something suspicious; maybe the scent of alcohol or slurred speech. When he asks, I tell him I’ve had a “few beers.”

I’m asked to step out of the car, and Labahn says he’s watching to make sure I don’t stumble as I exit, or brace myself on the car for balance.

Now it’s time for the field sobriety test, which Labahn, a 17-year veteran, estimates he’s done thousands of times.

None of the counting backward or the reciting the alphabet for Labahn. He goes straight for the eyes, which apparently tell all.

I’m asked to follow Labahn’s pen as he twirls it around, moves it up and down. Labahn’s watching to see how my eyes react to the movement.

“I’m checking how (the eyes) roll across,” Labahn says, as I try to follow the pen. In the morning sun, the eye tests are actually a little uncomfortable; Labahn has me stretching my eye muscles about as far as I can.

After that, I’m ready to “walk the line.” Ten steps forward, 10 steps back.

Labahn explains that after the field sobriety test, he has a good idea if someone has been drinking, and even how much. Labahn will later record all the indicators that point to alcohol usage that can later be used in court.

But the real test, the Breathalyzer, is next.

Labahn pulls out a plastic tube, explains how to blow into it, and I agree to the test. Suspects can decline, but the penalties, in some case, are even stiffer than if they had agreed and failed. If there are enough other indicators of alcohol use, I’d be arrested either way.

I blow into it. Labahn waits.

If the results come back above the legal limit of .08, Labahn says he wastes no time handcuffing a suspect. In an actual arrest, he’d have an officer standing behind me in case I resist.

Labahn has my arms behind my back before I have time to realize what’s happened.

“It’s done real quick,” Labahn says.


jezterhaus 6 years, 9 months ago

"What a DUI stop, arrest looks like"

Makes me think I might get visual insight. Maybe someone forgot the slide show. Maybe this should have been titled "How someone who has never been through something would describe it through words"

Oh yeah. First, None.

RKLOG 6 years, 9 months ago

“It’s done real quick," we are the Borg, resistance is futile! This is definitely something to avoid.

Jean1183 6 years, 9 months ago

Pics please! I know you took them. I was one of the interested walkers and that's what clued me into the fact that it was you doing a story. : )

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 9 months ago

technical difficulties... we'll have some vid up shortly...

Shaun Hittle LJW Reporter

nut_case 6 years, 9 months ago

LOL - following a twirling pen all over the sky while staring into the morning sun, then trying to walk a straight line....reminds me of the old game of bending over to put your head on a baseball bat, spinning around three times, then trying to run the bases.

kansasredlegs 6 years, 9 months ago

"pretend to spot something suspicious" is so true with "pretend" being the operative word. The stretch-your-eyeball-test is not admissible in court as it's deemed junk science and yet this is the test that "tells all."

Food_for_Thought 6 years, 9 months ago

Education is your friend. Kansas courts have ruled the HGN test inadmissible, but I wouldn't consider Kansas the "enlightened authority" when it comes to judiciary rulings. There are many states that have deemed the HGN test as admissible in court:

I'd suggest reading this:

and watching this:

WHY 6 years, 9 months ago

The reporter should do it again with a defense attorney and a prosecutor giving play by play.

cj123 6 years, 9 months ago

I hear the Lawrence PD like being a little rough to the DUI offenders!

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

what a horrible waste of taxpayer money taking an officer and his car off the street for this story,

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