Concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic have forced the cancellation of Prescott’s annual Whiskey Row Boot Drop event on New Year’s Eve. Organizers say they’re going to help people give 2020 the boot with a virtual event on Dec. 31 on YouTube. You’ll also be able to ring in 2021 by going to BootDrop.com.
Another New Year’s Eve tradition
While the Boot Drop tradition has been moved online, another New Year’s Eve tradition will continue when the Prescott Valley Police Department, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department and Arizona Department of Public Safety roll out extra drunk driving patrols to make DUI arrests.
For those planning a trip south to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Phoenix metro area, be aware that additional drunk driving units will be roaming city streets there as well.
Certain holidays, such as New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and Labor Day see spikes in DUI enforcement and drunk driving arrests across the state. Law enforcement agencies – including the Prescott Valley Police Department – often prefer to deploy saturation patrols rather than sobriety checkpoints for holiday enforcement of drunk driving laws.
High-visibility DUI patrols
Prescott Valley and Prescott police officers conduct high-profile saturation patrols that give New Year’s Eve drivers a clear view of flashing police car lights and glimpses of drivers performing roadside sobriety tests.
There are three standard sobriety tests police officers can administer to someone who has been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
- Walk-and-Turn test
- The One-Leg Stand test
How a roadside test is performed
The HGN test involves an officer holding a small object about 12 inches from your nose and slowly moving it from one side to the other. You’re instructed to follow the object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
The officer observes the movement of your eyes to try to determine if you’re impaired. Certain eye movements – including unsteady or jerking movements – can indicate impairment.
Imperfect tests can mean flawed results
Unfortunately, the HGN test is imperfect, especially when conducted in poor lighting conditions, and when officers move the test object too slowly or too quickly in front of the driver to get accurate results. Some drivers also have medical conditions that can make HGN tests effectively useless.
Other roadside sobriety tests include the finger-to-nose test, fingers-to-thumb test and alphabet recitation.
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, be sure to discuss with your attorney any sobriety tests you took and how they were conducted.
It’s important to remember a couple of things here: first, state law allows drivers to decline to perform roadside sobriety tests. However, Arizona’s implied consent law does not allow drivers to refuse a chemical test to determine your BAC (blood alcohol content). Refusal of a chemical test means your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 12 months.
Last but not least: please drive safely on New Year’s Eve and have a great 2021.