A few weeks ago Dahl, Fischer & Wilks, Xcite Media and VonFeldt & Beatty Investigations put on a wetlab to see how many people would actually be safe to drive home following a happy hour… turns out, no one was safe to drive home. We had each participant fill out a questionnaire to get some basic information before we started. We asked for information like gender, age, weight, drinking habits and whether and what each person had eaten during the course of the day. Then, during the wetlab, each person was supposed to track how much they were eating and drinking. We say this is something they were supposed to do because we quickly realized that as the happy hour went on, people had increasing difficulty remembering exactly how much they had to drink. Not necessarily because they were to drunk to remember, but because they lost track because they were involved in conversation, enjoying the social aspect of the happy hour. We regularly had participants tell us they had, for example, one rum and coke. We would then have them do a PBT, give them the result, and they would tell us that the one rum and coke might have been more like a double.
So, this wetlab was non-scientific and should not be used to help you determine how much you can drink and safely drive. In addition to the human error of letting drinkers gauge their own alcohol consumption and food intake, the PBT we used was not calibrated prior the wetlab and the roadside tests were conducted in doors, not roadside as they would be in a real DUI stop. However, we thought the information might be interesting, not only to the participants, but also to others, to show that even if you feel fine to drive, you may not be.
Participant 1 is a 26 year old female. She is 5’9″ and weighs 145 lbs. Before the happy hour, she had eaten a large salad and a yogurt. She told us she drinks approximately 3 times a week and drinks 3-5 drinks in an average sitting. Before she drank or ate anything at the happy hours, she performed roadside tests and passed, showing no clues on any test.
At 30 minutes, she had drank one beer and her PBT result was .139. We thought this seemed a little high, but then at 60 minutes, after drinking a double rum and coke, her PBT result was a .169. At 60 minutes, she also performed the roadside tests again. This time she “failed.” She showed 4 out of 6 clues on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, 2 out of 8 clues on the walk and turn test and 1 out of 4 clues on the one leg stand test. Our “officer” said he would have arrested her based on her roadside test performance. At 90 minutes, she had drank another rum and coke and her PBT came back at a .266, over three times the legal limit.
Unlike some of our other participants, fortunately for this person, she knew that she was not safe to drive and would not have even tried. That said, she was pretty surprised that her PBT results were as high as they were given the amount of alcohol she drank.