The impairment experiment
Watch our ‘wet lab’ participants show how alcohol affects everyone differently
Are you okay to drive? You’ve probably heard someone ask this question toward the end of a night out. Whether you’ve had a lot to drink or even just a little — the wrong answer could have a serious impact.
So when it comes to drinking, how much is too much? We took a group of volunteers to an alcohol impairment workshop called a wet lab to find out. The results might surprise you.
The role of wet labs.
Wet labs show everyone involved, from volunteer drinkers to police officers, that when it comes to drinking and driving, what’s legal isn’t always what’s safe. Our volunteers learned that even a small amount of alcohol slowed their reaction times and made them unsafe to drive.
Wet labs are a controlled environment where police officers learn to identify the visual and physical cues of alcohol impairment. This helps them keep impaired drivers off the road so we can all get home safely.
Do you know your limits?
Here’s the thing, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .079 is the legal limit. Once you’ve reached .08, you’re past the legal limit and will be arrested if pulled over. But that doesn’t mean you’re okay to drive before then. Everyone’s tolerance level is different, and it’s different on any given day. You could be drunk enough to need a ride home well under the legal limit. So when you find yourself sharing one too many secrets at the bar, it’s probably time to call for a ride home.
We all know the signs of drunkenness:
- Flushed face
- Trying to get the bar to join your karaoke rendition of Toto’s Africa
- Laughing more often
- Slurred speech
- Trying to get the bartender’s number
- Getting wobbly/feeling unbalanced
- Feeling the urge to text an ex
When you see these signs in yourself or your friends, it’s time to get a safe ride home.
He thinks he can pass a sobriety test above the legal limit. Spoiler alert: He can’t.
She learns why drinking and driving is dangerous… even if you’re under the limit.
He shows us what “too drunk to drive” looks and sounds like.
She’s definitely calling a friend to drive her home tonight.
He knows when it’s time to get a sober ride home.
Speak up and protect your pals
On a night out, the last thing on anyone’s mind is getting a DUI. We’re all there to enjoy our time together. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead to make sure everyone gets home safely. But sometimes when you’re out, things don’t always go according to plan. When they don’t, we need to say something and help our friends get a sober ride home.
Here are some ways you can speak up when you know your friend shouldn’t drive home:
- Politely tell them you can’t let them drive home because you care
- Tell them you love them and you’ll call them a rideshare
- Offer to take public transportation with them
- Offer an alternative to driving, like walking or inviting them to stay over
- Tell them you’ll pay for their rideshare
- Offer to drive their car if you haven’t been drinking
- Enlist another friend to help you convince them not to drive. There is strength in numbers
Keep in mind that even a small amount of alcohol can affect your friends’ driving abilities. In 2021, there were 2,266 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a BAC within the legal limit. That’s why it’s so important to know your and your friends’ limits and drink responsibly. Becoming too drunk to drive looks different for each person, so don’t let your friends risk it. Bottom line is this: If you feel different, you drive different.