Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (A.R.I.D.E)

There are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and then there is ARIDE which takes the roadside investigation just that much further by giving the officer additional "tools" of investigation when the officer suspects something just isn't right, yet identifying what that problem is problematic without more information. Jonathan Rands is ARIDE qualified.

Bridging the Gap Between SFST and DRE

The ARIDE program was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with input from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP). These are the same agencies that developed and researched the roadside sobriety tests, or Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).

To be able to attend and engage in ARIDE training, you must be SFST qualified as the SFST program is the bedrock for ARIDE. While the SFST course is 24 hours and trains officers to assess drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol only, ARIDE has the goal of training students to observe, identify, and then be able to articulate with some specificity what they "believe to be" indicators of impairment by way of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.

The course is aimed at providing information not only to law enforcement personnel but states that it seeks to educate prosecutors, judges, and toxicologist. Interesting how defense attorneys are left off that list!

ARIDE is intended to "bridge the gap" between SFST and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program. ARIDE does not qualify a student to become a DRE, but is intended to provide students/officers with basic and general knowledge of drugs and drug impairment. ARIDE stresses the importance of correctly identifying not a specific drug, but a category drug that can impair a driver. Once the category is identified and perhaps an opinion of the specific substance or drug(s) on board, the student is educated in the art of articulation support for that opinion so that s/he may articulate probable cause to secure a biological sample in order to "actually" identify the substances believed to be causing impairment. In Washington State, that means a blood sample being drawn and a request for analyses to be used in the prosecution of a DUI charge.

DUI means Driving Under The Influence Of Intoxicating Liquor OR Drugs. The drugs do not have to be illegal, and may even be prescribed, but a valid prescription and consumption according to doctor's orders do not mean a vehicle should be driven while using the drugs/medication and a valid prescription is not a defense to a DUI-Drug charge.

What is a Drug?

For purposes of the legal system and the ARIDE course, NHTSA has defined a drug as:

It is interesting to note that the substance does not have to actually impair, it just has to have the ability to impair. This begins the process of deconstructing the ARIDE program and launching a successful defense if charged with DUI-Drugs. This creates the issue of whether a person is actually DUI when there is a small amount active and on board, and whether the driver is actually DUI. The issue is typically settled in trial by expert opinion.

A New Drug Limit

Prior to December 6, 2013, there was no drug per se limit in Washington like there is for alcohol, but the legalization of marijuana has changed that such that there is now a

  • 5ng limit for 21 or over, and
  • zero tolerance for under 21.

This limit is for marijuana only; for every other drug, there is no defining line of enhanced DUI-Drugs as there is for DUI-Alcohol.

An IID Now Required After DUI-Drug

There is no rationale connection to DUI-Drug convictions and the need for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). How can an IID deter a person from again consuming drugs and driving if the device does not detect drugs? Be that is it may, an IID is now required for a period of time after a DUI-Drug conviction.

Legislation also saw to it that an IID is now required when a person suffering from a drug dependency issue enters into Deferred Prosecution. The legislative rationale mimics that of the NHTSA in declaring that people who drink are also very likely to use drugs, and those people are even more likely to mix the substances. The reliability of these statistics produced by the NHTSA is suspect and, as always, focused on the actual prosecution of the crime rather than actual facts. (See session 1, page 6 of the ARIDE manual).

ARIDE Course

The course begins with a review of the three SFSTs followed by a practice session and then a proficiency exam. The student has two opportunities to properly demonstrate the three tests per NHTSA standards. The student is graded by a qualified NHTSA instructor and a failure to show proficiency within two attempts (if necessary) prohibits the student from continuing on in the ARIDE course.

Once proficiency is shown, the student is introduced to the general concept of "Drugs in the Human Body" and learns about typical ingestion, effects of drugs, observable signs and symptoms of impairment, and then begins the process of learning the seven major drug categories. During this overview, the student is briefly introduced to some medical conditions (see session IV, page 8-9). One (1) page of materials out of 98 pages, and about 10 minutes of class time out of 16 hours is dedicated to the discussion of medical conditions that mimic drug impairment. With such little training and dedication to important conditions, it is a wonder there are not more false arrests for DUI-Drugs, and is internal proof that ARIDE is really dedicated to making a prosecution, than anything else.

Download the A.R.I.D.E. Manual

The Seven Drug Categories

Learning these and the symptoms they present is the bulk of ARIDE, and with this, comes a heavy emphasis on the eyes. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test will confirm the possibility of the presence or absence of certain categories "on board," as will the subjects pupil size, and the same is said for the Lack Of Convergence (LOC) of the eyes. LOC is simply the inability to cross one's eyes. However, while it is hailed as a valid and reliable indicator, 40% of the population is naturally unable to converge/cross their eyeballs.

These eye "conditions" or "observations" alone or in combination and their presence or absence are the primary method of identifying any single or multiple drug categories. The seven categories are:

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

These are substances that slow down the operation of the brain and CNS. Examples are Alcohol, Zanax, Prozac, and GHB

  • HGN is Present
  • Pupils are NORMAL
  • LOC is PRESENT – the eyes cannot be crossed

Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants

These are substances that stimulate, or over stimulate the brain and CNS. Examples are Cocaine, Ritalin, and Methamphetamine

  • HGN is NOT Present
  • Pupils are DILATED
  • LOC is NOT PRESENT – eyes can be crossed


Natural and synthetic substances that impair your ability to perceive reality. Examples are LSD (acid), Peyote, MDMA (ecstasy)

  • HGN is NOT Present
  • Pupils are DILATED
  • LOC is NOT PRESENT – eyes can be crossed

Dissociative Anesthetics

The best description of these is PCP and Ketamine (horse tranquilizer). These were originally developed for use as anesthetics. They are powerful drugs that cause symptoms of both depressants and hallucinogens.

  • Pupils are NORMAL
  • LOC is PRESENT – cannot cross eyes

Narcotic Analgesics

Natural and synthetic opiates. Examples are Opium, Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Demerol, and Methadone. All of these are designed and used for pain relief.

  • HGN is NOT Present
  • Pupils are CONSTRICTED or pinpoint
  • LOC is NOT PRESENT – can cross


These are any number of breathable chemicals or volatile solvents and compounds that are inhaled. Oven cleaner is a particularly dangerous yet common example. While not intended by their manufacturers to be used as a drug, they are nevertheless inhaled and produce a high.

  • Pupils are NORMAL
  • LOC is PRESENT – cannot cross eyes


The most well-known drug category as it includes marijuana, hashish, and a synthetic compound called Marinol. Recently, K2, spice, and potpourri are newer synthetic versions.

  • Pupils are DILATED
  • LOC is PRESENT – cannot cross eyes

Additional ARIDE Tests

As mentioned, the three standardized sobriety tests are utilized with the HGN being the most important, and also supplemented with the Lack Of Convergence Test and the Romberg Balance Test.

Lack of Convergence Test

After the HGN, the LOC test uses the same stimulus as used in the HGN. The test requires the person to, once again, simply watch the "stimulus" that is held 12-15 inches from the subject's nose and the stimulus is moved in two large circles in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion. The eyes are watched to ensure they are properly tracking, and then after the 2 circles are completed come back to center and move the stimulus towards the bridge of the nose until it is approximately 1 inch from the bridge. During this movement towards the bridge, the administrator is to watch the subject's eyes. The eyes should come together and then converge/cross. If so, then LOC is NOT present. However, if they come together and cross briefly and then one or both eyes drift away, or out and away from center then LOC IS present. As stated above, LOC indicates a variety of drug categories, as well as a genetic inability to converge.

Romberg Balance Test

This test was originally created by an ear nose and throat specialist, Dr. Romberg, to test for balance issues associated with inner ear issues. Very few law enforcement officers know this and even fewer understand its original purpose, rather, they administer it because that is what they were taught to do. Having a working knowledge and understanding of these "tests" is critical to expose them for the scientific fraud that they often become. This test is simply instructing a subject to close their eyes, tilt their head back slightly and estimate 30 seconds. The administrator is to time the test to see how fast or slow the subject internal clock is as well as look for eyelid "tremors" and leg "tremors" or "shakes." Apparently, these tremors and shakes do not indicate nervousness, rather they are indicators of "something" more important, cannabis perhaps.

Strictly speaking, the instructions are:

A time of 25-35 seconds estimated is a pass as the subject's internal clock is acceptable. Administrators are also required to note the presence of any tremors as well as any noticed sway. Unlike the three standardized tests, there are no standard criteria for determining a grade or even a pass/fail. This lack of standardization is one reason why this test is meaningless or just the opposite, it is why any meaning the officer likes can be attributed to what s/he sees.

This Roadside Investigation is Voluntary

The ARIDE course is designed to provide the officers two additional tests (LOC and Romberg Balance) to be administered subsequent to the three SFSTs as well provide them with some additional knowledge about drugs and how they will affect the eyes. However, the accuracy and legitimacy of this information is debatable. While somewhat simplistic and boiled down to its most basic description, the fact of the matter is ARIDE relies upon taking careful note of odors, pupil size, HGN, LOC, as well as statements made, so that the officer can hopefully make an educated guess as to what may be "on board" and in the system of the driver. Subsequent to this educated guess, it is believed that the officer will make a valid DUI-Drug arrest.

Just like any and all roadside requests, except for production of license, registration, and insurance proof, in the State of Washington, all roadside tests and requests, in any combination are voluntary and a driver NEVER has to do them.

The ARIDE program is contingent upon the cooperation of the suspected DUI driver, and the longer the person engages in these tests and interviews the more likely the officer will offer up an opinion in support of seeking a blood draw if s/he suspects drug impairment or a combination of alcohol plus another drug category. This is known as "poly drug use."

Furthermore, should a blood/breath test be refused, a warrant for the blood can be sought based on the test administration and interpretation of the officer. In the event a warrant is not sought in the face of a refusal, the prosecution will use the tests to explain impairment by the suspected drug category.

A slightly different outcome is that based on the officer's ARIDE training and the driver's cooperation, the officer can request a Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) which is a more intense evaluation where a highly trained officer examines you in a 12 step protocol and likewise renders an opinion of impairment.

Once again, this is a voluntary evaluation and requires your consent. Consent, from a DUI defense position, should NOT be given. While withholding consent to search is an excellent way to defend against a DUI-Drugs prosecution the best defense is to not drive after taking impairing substances. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need DUI defense, Jonathan Rands has the training, experience, and dedication to your uncompromised DUI Defense.