Do Massachusetts Police Officers Really Ask You To Recite The Alphabet Backwards During A DUI Stop?
"I can't even do that sober", is always the response I get every time I bring this topic up in conversation. It's true though, right? Can you recite the alphabet backwards if someone asked you to?
There are many common misnomers when it comes to law enforcement's methodology, especially surrounding those dreadful OUI stops. If you're a drinker, even a light one, you've probably driven when "over the limit", got lucky and didn't get pulled over.
If you have been pulled over while intoxicated, I imagine it's not a pleasant experience. Knowing your future might include the loss of your privilege to drive, a heavy financial price along with embarrassment, not to mention the fact that you could have seriously injured yourself or someone else, is just bad bad.
DO MASSACHUSETTS POLICE OFFICERS REALLY ASK YOU TO RECITE THE ALPHABET BACKWARDS DURING A DUI STOP, OR IS THAT JUST A MYTH?
I decided to go right to the source on this one. Glenn Lagerwall is a friend of mine and a retired Massachusetts State Trooper and the following is what he had to say concerning this question.
No. The backwards alphabet is not taught and is not one of the standardized field sobriety tests. Reciting the alphabet is used as a divided attention test but I have never nor have I ever heard an officer asking anyone to recite the alphabet backwards. It is asked that people start with a specific letter and end at a specific letter such as recite the alphabet starting with the letter D and ending with the letter M. Honestly, officers would most likely have to testify and demonstrate the test they perform in court so most would not offer a backwards alphabet because most would not be able to do it themselves on the stand.
Another test is often COUNTING backwards starting with a specific number and ending with a specific number such as count backwards starting with the number 60 and ending with the number 40. The whole purpose of these is to have the person do a common task that they would normally have no problem with but have trouble doing when impaired. -Ret. Massachusetts State Trooper Glenn Lagerwall