Drinking and Driving – How Police Learn to Test BAC

Blow Here - BAC Breathalizer Test
Blow Here, Sir

Vodka, Beer, Tequila shots and a police station, not a great mix really just before the Holiday period. It’s not what you are thinking though, I didn’t get pulled for a DUI, I got invited to get hammered with the coppers in the Crescent PA Police station, and what an experience it was too.

A buddy of mine is a new policeman and himself and a group of other new police officers were put through their paces over a night of training for the standard Sobriety Test. They were being examined to make sure they were all doing the test the correct way and to make sure they could recognize the signs of a drunk driver. They needed live subjects to test on, so I volunteered to getting liquored up in the name of research. Getting drunk in a police station was a surreal experience and after 7 sobriety tests later I would not want to do it at the side of the road.

Drinking Alcohol for Public Safety

Having a Drink with the Police - Testing BAC
Having a Drink with the Police

It was 3pm in the afternoon and they tested the whole class to make sure we had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.00% — basically zero alcohol in our system. Then they started a controlled drinking program to raise our BAC level to be way over the legal limit. Now don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the drinking part, but when you have to stand in a room and go through numerous sobriety tests later it’s no joke. I even felt guilty when being tested.

At 5pm, 25 minutes after my Screw Drivers (vodka & orange juice), they tested my vital signs. Believe it or not but after 6oz of vodka my BAC was only 0.07 — still below the legal driving limit of 0.08. Then they started to step the drinking up and at 6PM, after two more beers, my BAC level was finally over the legal limit at 0.92. Another 2oz of Tequila raised it to 0.123, the peak for the evening.

Getting Our BAC Tested

Julian's Vital Signs - BAC Test Results Prior to Alcohol
Julian's Vital Signs

We then went into the training room for testing. The first test was standing on one leg while touching your nose with both hands alternatively. The second test was walking a straight line, turning around and coming back with your feet touching the whole way end to end.

The third test was the pen trick which is extremely difficult to hide when inebriated. The police ask you to follow a pen slowly with your eyes left to right, and then up and down. If your pupil bounces off either the corner of your eye socket as you look left or right or the top or bottom you are intoxicated.

Nature is a wonderful thing. Basically you’re pushing your eye ball into a position that your brain is uncomfortable with due to the alcohol. Your brain tries to push your pupil back to the middle on its own, but you counteract that and your pupil starts jumping and you can’t stop it — it naturally and automatically happens. When the officer sees this they know you have been drinking.

I was able to walk in the straight line, and even stand on one leg without any hassle, but every single time the eye test let me down. Fifty percent of the new police officers recognized that I was over the limit. Now with the eye test I know I can’t hide it while out on the town.

Conclusions About BAC Testing

Crescent Police Department Training Room - BAC Testing
Crescent Police Department Training Room

Coming down from the buzz was quite interesting too. Pizza and soda were the order of the day and due to me having quite a fast metabolism I was able to get my ride home at 9.40 with a BAC of 0.09. Only 20 more minutes and my blood alcohol level would have been below the legal driving limit.

What an experience it was, I was shocked to learn though that I can have 3 Vodka and Oranges and drive as I was below the legal limit.

I want to thank the Crescent Police for the experience and hope that I never see them out on the open road and have to do this for real.

Written by Julian Taylor, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com