DFC bring police to students, learn about drunk driving

Freshman Jasmine Ledford focuses on a bubble as she tries to pop it.

Persephone Means, Editor

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention month, so Drug Free Communities sponsor Jaime Westervelt decided to bring in law enforcement and give freshmen students in health and physical education classes a taste of what it is like to walk, text, drive, and even blow bubbles while being impaired. The students wore a pair of goggles that made their vision that of someone with a blood alcohol content of .02. According to dmv.org, “All 50 states have now set .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI).”

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Freshman Jillian Keller attempts to pop a bubble with the goggles on. Most students could not complete this task as there are two of everything.

Before the students were allowed to go into the physical demonstrations, Deputy Travis Buck showed them a few of the tests that officers do to test if someone is driving while impaired. The first he showed was called the “45-degree check.” Wagging his finger left to right to about 45-degree angles, he showed how they regularly give the test on Officer Mike Ford. “We look for obvious signs, like their eyes bouncing back and forth and not being able to control their movement,” explained Deputy Buck. “We also always do it twice, just to make sure.”

The second demonstration he showed was the “step and turn” test. He asked Officer Ford to take nine heel to toe steps. When he go to the end, he was to do a turn with his left foot pivoted. Then he had to take nine more heel to toe steps back. Officer Ford passed the test with flying colors, but this test is to look for any lack of coordination caused by drugs or alcohol. If the suspect steps off of the line, flails their arms or falls over, they have failed the test.

The third and final demonstration was the “one leg stand” test. Again Deputy Buck asked Officer Ford to stand with his arms to his side and his head down looking at his feet. He then had to lift his foot about six inches off of the ground and hold it until Deputy Buck said to stop. Deputy Buck explained that if they could not complete this test that their balance was impaired and that they should not be driving. “After ten o’clock, on average, one out of every ten drivers are driving impaired,” said Deputy Buck.

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Officer Ford successful completes the task he has been given. This test is to check balance.

Officer and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Danny Rodriguez then talked to the students about how to recognize different effects of drugs on the body. Officer Rodriguez is one of only 72 Drug Specialists in the state of Kansas. He showed them a couple more tests that he does on suspects to check for drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, or marijuana that may be impairing their driving. Officer Rodriguez asked Deputy Buck to stand with his feet together, arms at his sides, and his head facing towards the sky. He clearly explained that he should touch his nose with the appropriate fingertip when asked to. The students watched intently as Officer Rodriguez chanted, “Left… Right.. Left.. Right.. Right.. Left…”

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Deputy Buck touches his finger to his nose in a demonstration of dexterity and ability to follow instructions.

The second was the “Internal clock/Romberg test.” Deputy Buck was asked to stand with his feet together, head up, and count to sixty. “Depending on the drug, your time can really slow down or speed up,” explained Officer Rodriguez. “If they are really off the mark, then we know something might be up.”


It was finally time for the students to test out the goggles. Broken up into groups, the students had four stations to work through. The first was the bubble station. Students were asked to put the goggles on, sit down in a rolly chair, open a little vial of bubbles, and to blow bubbles. Each student that sat down was confident that they could do it, but after their first attempts, they quickly realized how difficult it can be.


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Freshman Allie Fager successfully blows bubbles. Most students could not do this as their perception is affected by the goggles.

The second station was the drunk driving station. Students were asked to pair up. The driver of the chair then put on glasses. The team had to navigate at a good speed through small traffic cones that had been set up. When the drivers got to the halfway point, they had to pull out their cell phones and navigate while being further distracted. “I don’t feel safe with a drunk driver,” freshman Chrissy Helman said. “It was really hard because there was always two of everything,” said freshman Kyree Hanson.


With freshman Chrissy Helman “drunk driving” and texting, freshman Brody Nemecek looks down in alarm as he runs into a cone.

At the third station, the students had to put on the goggles and catch and throw a ball. Most students couldn’t throw the ball back and there was an initial learning curve to catching.

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Freshman Ella Taylor attempts to catch a ball while “under the influence.” Normally great at sports, this station was challenging.


The fourth station was an echo of the first demonstration. The students had to put on the goggles and had to walk nine steps, turn around with only the right foot leaving the ground, and walk back. This station got a lot of people, as arms flailing and not touching heel to toe were grounds for failure.

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Freshman Gaby Lampe fails as she falls off of the line in the “heel to toe” test. One of the most challenging aspects of this demonstration was walking at a normal pace.

“We used this as a learning tool. Having a hands-on experience is often more fun and more memorable that a teacher telling you over and over,” said Westervelt. This program was brought to Iola, Moran, and Humboldt.