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Student Officers Learn How Conduct Field Sobriety Tests at the Cambridge-Northeastern Police Academy

Student officers in the Cambridge-Northeastern Police Academy are learning how to conduct field sobriety tests to help determine if a driver is too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. To help re-create the most realistic training possible, volunteers agree to consume a controlled amount of alcohol to push their blood alcohol content (BAC) slightly above the .08 legal limit.

We put this piece together to show you the training.


The volunteers are friends or family of the officers and are taken to and from the training. Sergeant Jason Callinan, our lead field sobriety testing instructor, explains why this realistic training is so valuable in an academy environment. “Ideally we are bringing them to a level where they have enough alcohol in their system where they shouldn’t be driving but it is also challenging to see that,” said Callinan.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is one of the field sobriety tests that can only be observed when someone is intoxicated. “The person will have jerking of their eyes. It’s completely involuntarily. The person doesn’t know it is happening,” described Callinan. Some of these tests do not detect marijuana use – but officers learn other ways to assess that impairment. “It can affect your balance. It can affect your memory and coordination skills,” said Callinan.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drunk driving and drugged driving have an enormous impact on road safety in Massachusetts. In 2021, more than one-third (34%) of all motor vehicle deaths in Massachusetts involved a drunk driver, which was higher than the national rate of 31%.

Page was posted on 4/22/2024 3:50 PM
Page was last modified on 4/22/2024 3:51 PM
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