Today, when a Phoenix driver is pulled over and suspected by the police officer of drunken driving, he or she can expect to be asked to perform a variety of field sobriety tests. The tests can help the officer decide if the driver should be charged or not with DUI. Drivers can also be asked to submit a blood sample to be tested for alcohol content.
One day soon, Tempe’s ASU might well put another tool at the disposal of DUI patrols: a smartphone app that could determine if the user has been consuming alcohol, marijuana or other intoxicating substances. The app would do this by recording and analyzing minute eye movements.
The rapid eye movements — known as saccades or micro-saccades — can be observed and analyzed to detect tiny variations in velocity, direction and angle that can be signs of brain injury or impairment. The technology ASU will use in the coming app is already being used to help detect Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in patients.
However, ASU’s Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security is working to get funding for further development of its app project. In a press statement, the center said it hopes the app will be available for use by both consumers and law enforcement.
This would presumably enable future consumers to avoid DUIs and and enable tomorrow’s police officers to reliably ascertain whether someone has been drinking and driving.
Until then, those facing drunken driving charges will continue to fight for their rights with the aid of experienced defense attorneys.