Walking The Line Is A Sobering Experience

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Seniors at Payson High School had trouble walking forward two days before prom.

The cause was not alcohol or drugs, but goggles that simulate a blood alcohol content of .1 during the day and at night.

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Wearing goggles that distort one's view of the world, these two seniors at Payson High School get a firsthand taste of being drivers under the influence. Thursday morning, School Resource Officer David Vaughn and Officer Mike Snively administered driving tests with and without the goggles. Most of the students drove fairly well without the distorted view, but did very poorly once the goggles were in place.

"The law has become tougher. The legal limit is now .08 but the goggles still do their job," resource officer Michael McAnerny said.

The job Thursday was to teach students how drugs and alcohol impair vision.

"I want you to make nine heel toe steps down the line, turn and make nine heel toe steps back," McAnerny said.

"I feel like everything is out of place. Nothing is where it's supposed to be," Jesus Hipolito said after attempting to walk a few steps from the desk to the line.

"I'm smashed," Joseph Schloesser said after his walk.

"It is more fun watching someone else," he added.

Police consider two missteps a failure.

Larae Chabot managed the 18 steps in high heels.

"Some people do better than others, but the longer you wear the glasses, the harder it is," McAnerny said.

Sure enough, on another test where she had to walk between the lines and turn a corner she stepped on a line although she made baby steps.

Wreck Your Life was another indoor game teens played. With DUI goggles in place they threw three sticky ping pong balls at a board of ominous consequences.

Hipolito hit a tree with his first ball, and passed out paralyzed in the parking lot with his next two tosses.

"I feel kind of nauseated," he said as he removed the goggles.

Outside in the parking lot, school probation officer Mike Snively and resource officer David Vaughn had their hands full with goggled drivers in go-carts as teens tried to maneuver through orange cones.

"They had fun in the parking lot," Snively said.

Use of the go-carts was donated by The Golf Cart Shop in Camp Verde.

"Most students do not know the difference between a driving under the influence misdemeanor and a felony," Snively said.

A first DUI with only the driver in the car is a class I misdemeanor.

A DUI becomes an aggravated DUI (a felony) under state law when a child under 15-years-old is in the vehicle with the driver.

Two or more prior convictions in the last 84 months will also send the driver to jail.

A DUI and driving with a suspended, revoked or canceled license equals an class IV felony.

Students watched several DUI movies including, "Not Everybody Dies in a DUI." In the film, a girl was permanently disfigured.

Cameras were in a Tucson courtroom for State v. Anderson, a film about a collision between two drivers.

The car's driver had a BAC of .244. The judge sentenced her to 10 years in prison for her role in an accident where a father suffered head injuries. His son, was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene. Both father and son had marijuana in their system, but the judge ruled pre-trial that the jury could not hear that.

"Kids never think it could happen to them. Alcohol impairs vision, judgment, reaction time and hearing. We just took away vision. I think we made a good impression," Snively said.

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