HawkEye drug-recognition tool aids law enforcement
January 5, 2008 The AcuNetx HawkEye law enforcement system, which magnifies and records tell-tale signs of drug intoxication in a suspect’s pupils, has been awarded two separate patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The tool is now being used by highway patrol officers and at sobriety checkpoints across the U.S.A.
Manufactured and marketed under an exclusive agreement with the company’s subsidiary, VisioNetx, the AcuNetx HawkEye system is a lightweight, handheld tool that captures eye behavior on DVD or computer. The fully integrated system uses specialized infrared illumination to enhance eye response even in total darkness, and includes a wireless microphone for annotation or commentary.
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The eyes provide a non-intrusive, easy to observe, and quantifiable source of information for law enforcement officers. Constricted or dilated pupils, blurred vision, impaired night vision, droopy eyelids and bloodshot eyes can all be considered symptoms of various drugs. A claim by a police officer that the suspect had dilated pupils can help secure a conviction in court, but the HawkEye system provides solid evidence, as well as sharp photographic detail that can assist analysts in determining what drugs the suspect was taking, and how intoxicated he was as a result.
Studies indicate that driving under the influence of cannabis has doubled since 1989, and a survey by the State University of New York shows that only 18% of students believe drug taking is a reason not to drive. One of the proposed explanations for the dramatic rise in drugged driving is the difficulty of detecting and prosecuting perpetrators using the existing tools for combating drink driving. Not all drugs show up on breathalyzer tests, and blood tests do not necessarily prove impairment at the time of driving, since many drugs remain in the bloodstream far longer than alcohol. The HawkEye system is an effort to reverse this trend by removing some of the ambiguity from drugged driving prosecution.