It was a little bit after midnight, early Saturday morning, when Erika Skeivelas said she saw the flashing lights.
Her 8-year-old daughter, sitting next to her, thought it might be a wreck. Skeivelas, 32, said she was traveling on Alabama 34 toward her lake house to "check on the cats." She had worked until 10:30 that evening, but had stopped by the Hometown Block Party in downtown Pell City until it had ended.
What Skeivelas saw were two St. Clair County deputies cars, with flashing lights, stopping traffic on the highway. She was then asked to be part of what she was told would be a brief roadside survey.
What she participated in was a national survey looking at blood alcohol and drug levels of drivers.
Skeivelas said she didn't think anything about taking part, because she hadn't been drinking. However, she said she didn't think it was clear the survey wasn't mandatory.
"I tend to do what an officer tells me to do," she said. "I wasn't too comfortable with it. I had a minor in the car. But the officer told me it was just a safety survey, so I said, 'OK, fine, whatever.' I don't like to blow smoke up the dragon's nostrils."
She was told to pull into a car wash at the side of the road. Skeivelas said about three cars were stopped at the same time, and deputies were stopping cars on both sides of the road. She also saw some cars that turned around at the sight of the roadblock.
"There's a pretty popular bar about a half a mile from where they did the thing," she said. "That was kind of funny."
The survey took about 10 minutes, 15 at the most she said. When she had parked beside the road, a man identified himself with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. He wore navy blue pants and a navy blue shirt with a reflector vest. He read her several questions: Do you drink and drive? Do you take over the counter medications? Do you take prescription medications? Do they have warning labels?
Later on, she was handed an iPad to answer about 25 questions, some of which were similar to ones she had already been asked.
"I didn't get the feeling these were certified people," she said. "They looked like they had been hired by a temp organization just to read the questions."
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