“Black-and-White Fever”

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on October 22nd, 2008

Experienced traffic patrol officers are familiar with a phenomenon which is sometimes referred to as “black-and-white fever”.

That phenomenon is simply the normal reaction of most drivers to being followed by a marked police car (painted black and white in many jurisdictions). As soon as the motorist becomes aware that a police car is following him, he becomes understandably apprehensive’and focuses his attention increasingly on the rear view mirror. As the officer continues to follow, the driver becomes tense, worried, and his concentration on driving is broken: He keeps his eyes more on the mirror and less on the road ahead. Each time the driver brings his eyes back to the road, he finds that he has drifted and must correct the course of the car back to the center of the lane.

The result: weaving and, possibly, erratic movements such as sudden increases or decreases in speed (tension can cause the foot to depress the accelerator). And, of course, these are the most commonly encountered symptoms of a drunk driver on the highway.

In other words, it is the very presence of the officer which tends to create the probable cause for suspecting a DUI.

Once the officer pulls the driver over, he gets out and approaches the car with the very human preconception that the driver is probably intoxicated. And, as we know from psychological studies, we tend to see what we expect to see: normally veined eyes appear “bloodshot”, normal but nervous speech sounds “slurred”, normal pink complexion appears “flushed”, etc.

These observations are quickly followed by the notoriously subjective and inaccurate field sobriety tests, difficult to perform under the best of conditions (see my earlier post, “Field Sobriety Tests: Designed for Failure?”)….Followed by an arrest for drunk driving.


  • RichardAlan

    Ahh yes the old “Intimidation Routine” .

    So here’s my question; “what’s it called when the officer follows you with his high beams for over a half mile before putting on his red and blue christmas tree lights while tailgating you causing a safety concern, a swerve on my part, at 3 am in the morning?”

    Again this is why the CHP in my case destroyed the police evidence i.e. lost, stolen, destroyed video tapes of my stop…

    So what is this called? Super duper black n white fever?

    Has anyone heard of this tyranny? It appears that the officer broke many laws doing this to a private citizen.

    what say you?

  • standup

    The cops do it down here in Florida all the time Richard, and they all deny that they were doing it.

  • koivisto

    That’s what happened to me. 1:00 AM and so close I could not see the headlights in the rear view mirror. After making a spectacular movie like 180 degree slide to turn around after me. I had just taken a drink of pepsi and he thought it was beer. I was followed for two miles, stopped before the city line and the interrorgation began. Who was I, where was I, where am I going, why am I out so late, etc…. I kindly told him I was in America, and it was none of his business. He didn’t like that one bit. Result: arrested for DUI. Final result: NOT GUILTY.

  • RichardAlan

    Did you have the police video footage of this?

    Mine was destroyed. After the the officer made contact with me I recognized his “Malfeasance” and said nothing, resulting in a refusal. My case was dismissed, I was not convicted og the alleged dui.

    We’ll I had a transportation company, Class A license, perfect safety and driving record….

    Now I’ve been sitting in my house with nothing to do for the last 6 months, lost a total of $100,000, my business of 12 years is bankrupt.

    All because of this one traffic stop…. my family and are are still in complete shock.

    I have months before I get my license back.
    By then I will have lost another $40,000

    How is this possible, and what is being done to make people “Whole Again” ?

    What is being done to help people in my position?

  • koivisto

    No police footage. (surprise) you think he would show how close he was following and for so long? I won in court by following through with the truth.
    Richard, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and find another business. Your obviously highly intelligent and you can succeed at most anything. Remember the average IQ is 100 and 50% are below that and 50% are above. Your above and need to use your smarts to your advantage. Compete against your peers as an owner or manager of a business.

  • RichardAlan

    Thanks Koi, it’s just I’m at the bottom right now, not by the actions of my self, indeed I was driving down a highway at 3-am as I always have for the last 25 years, but to be tailgated in an extremely unsafe manner with high-beams on is in and of itself a crime committed by the officer. Thats explains why my video was lost, destroyed or damaged.

    and of course my case was dropped but without a drivers license I’m dead in the water. The police was nonfeasance or malfeasant and reported to the DMV that I
    was on something they don’t know what, so the DMV called it a refusal and my license is gone for a year.

    I have 4 months to go, but how do we turn the tables and really send the Courts, MADD, and the DMV a message?

    I have not earned any money since March of 2008. I have not paid any bills, or any taxes.

    I am not contributing to society, I have not been able to turn this around…..

    But thank you for the encouragement.

  • melee401

    This is typical of the life destroying tactis of MADD and the system of law enforcement that bows to that sort of hatred.
    Now I do not know what you call cops showing up at a school and playing on the emotions of immature children with lies and deceipt but I call it descpicable indoctrination of the worst kind.
    Corrupt police cases, courts that refuse to protect and defend the Constitution, families in the streets and children with no college in thier futures because dad can’t get a decent job any more because he was found sleeping one off in the car rather then drive under the influence.
    These are very mean and challenging times we live in.
    We have to come to grips with what we want as a nation and move swiftly to protect our freedoms from hateful people who use tragedy to subvert ur rights as citizens.
    When Congress, the courts and law enforcement go over the deep end as they have on this MADD issue then our country as a whole is in deep peril.