Demo Lets Martins Ferry High School Students See Through the Eyes of Drunken Drivers

Photo by Shelley Hanson Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Hise gives Martins Ferry High student Merritt Craft a nystagmus eye test while she wears goggles that mimic being under the influence on Wednesday. In the background is lawyer Christian Turak.

While wearing goggles that mimic being impaired by alcohol, student Merritt Craft struggled to walk in a straight line, lift her leg or see much of anything at her school’s gymnasium.

The sobriety test, administered by Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Hise, was part of a program held Wednesday at Martins Ferry High School, thanks to sponsor and organizer Gold Khourey & Turak, a local law firm.

Seeing their fellow student struggle with tasks that normally would be a breeze for most young, healthy teenagers was meant to show the teens how poorly someone would drive if they were in Craft’s shoes.

During the Booze Cruise and You’ll Lose program, Craft and 51 other seniors, also got to answer questions via cell phone app about the laws related to DUI and how alcohol actually impairs a motorist’s ability to drive properly.

The students shared a lot laughs during the assembly and got free T-shirts, hats and other items during the program, but in the end their principal, Joe Mamone, asked them to look out for each other.

“Step in and be a good friend and take that person’s keys. Don’t let that be the last time you see them,” Mamone said, adding he was in no way advocating for underage drinking.

During his talk, Hise taught the teens that sobriety tests cannot be beat because the body reveals certain responses that can’t be masked. For example, an eye test called the horizontal gaze nystagmus involves a person following an officer’s finger or penlight from side to side. If a person is under the influence their typical eye movements will be more pronounced.

They also learned the legal blood-alcohol limit for those underage is lower than adults — 0.02 percent. The limit for adults in Ohio is 0.08 percent. And despite what some students previously thought, one cannot fool a breathalyzer test by eating toothpaste or sucking on a penny. In fact, it can’t be fooled at all, Hise noted.

In addition to it being dangerous for themselves and others on the road, the students were reminded of other potential consequences of drinking and driving — such as going to jail, losing their driver’s license and damaging their reputation, to name a few.

In addition to the GKT and the OSP, the Wheeling Nailers and WTOV 9 also participated in the program.