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Officers train to better detect DUI offenders
McMinnville Police Department offered a training session to teach law enforcement officers the proper way to perform a field sobriety test. The session attracted 20-25 officers from across the state. Pictured are McMinnville Police Department officers Austin Wortman and Lt. Lisa Norris.

Law enforcement officers from across the state seeking to become proficient in recognizing when drivers are under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol converged on McMinnville last week.
McMinnville Police Department held a DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing session at Warren County Administrative Offices that attracted 20-25 officers.
“It’s important for DUI apprehension,” said McMinnville Police Lt. Mark Mara. “These tests have a 91-95 percent accuracy. The course is taught in every state. It’s standardized field sobriety testing so every officer is supposed to do it the same way. They are taught the same way, they do it the same way every time, and that’s why it’s so accurate.”
Mara is a DUI instructor, as well as a certified drug recognition expert. DREs are highly effective officers skilled in the detection and identification of persons impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
Departments are not required to hold sessions. However, those that do are usually well attended due to the importance of the subject matter.
“We have a couple of officers who are new, or haven’t gone through this course before so we hosted one,” said Mara. “It doesn’t cost McMinnville Police anything, and it’s a free course for any officer within the state of Tennessee, as long as they are certified officers. We do 24-hours of training on the three standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are important to help us determine if it’s drugs, alcohol or a medical problem.”
For officers opting to take the session, it’s three days with eight hours of training a day.
“The session is 24 hours and officers have to pass a written test and also have to do a practical hands-on test to show us they are capable of doing these standardized field sobriety tests,” said Mara. “It’s not an easy course.”
Three locals were in attendance, including MPD officer Austin Wortman.
“This training is something I wanted to have, but it’s also something I needed,” said Wortman. “I wanted to get it in early before I am out patrolling on my own.”
The class drew officers from across the state. Officers Joe Baynham and David Hazlett attended from Nolensville Police Department in Williamson County.
“There are a lot of changes from years ago,” Hazlett said. “I do the old-fashioned way of testing: heel-to-toe, walk, turn, and balance. I haven’t lost a DUI case in the last five years. However, it’s a good idea to learn a standardized way of testing.”
Officers had to pass a written test, as well as a hands-on test in front of an instructor, before receiving their certificates for attending the session.