EDITOR’s NOTE: This is the personal account of County10.com’s Joshua Scheer’s experience in a DUI “Wet lab” held Friday.
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Injury Prevention Resources hosted the county’s first ever DUI Wet Lab yesterday, Aug. 9, and it was an eye-opening experience for County10.com’s Joshua Scheer.
Law enforcement officers from the Riverton and Lander Police Departments as well as the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming Highway Patrol participated in the event, which was held in the parking lot on the west side of the 800 block of North Federal Boulevard.
The premise of the wet lab was this: five subjects were to drink three alcoholic beverages an hour for three hours. After each round of drinks, we the subjects, then attempted to drive a car on IPR’s simulator. After passing or failing the driving test, we were then given breathalyzer and field sobriety tests.
I’ve never been a proponent of drinking and driving. It’s a bad idea. As a reporter, I’ve read and written about the effects of drinking and driving all too many times. I’ve never been anti-drinking, and I’d like to think I always used good judgement about when I was OK to drive and when I was not.
In all honesty, I originally signed up to participate because free drinks and food sounded like a great idea. But I came away with a better understanding of what our law enforcement deals with on a regular basis as well as a better understanding of my own alcohol tolerance.
After the first round of drinks, which began at 9 a.m. (way too early), I got behind the wheel of the simulator. (The simulator isn’t exactly like driving a real car, but we were given chances to practice before we began drinking.) After successfully touring a neighborhood for several minutes, I became sloppy and caused a head-on collision. I chalked it up to being unfamiliar with the simulator.
But then, I quickly failed the field sobriety test administered by a Sheriff’s Deputy. I thought I did splendidly. Nope. I didn’t follow every rule the deputy had clearly given me. My blood alcohol content registered at a .056 percent. The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is .08. So after an hour of three drinks, I was not legally intoxicated but failed nearly every test.
That’s scary for me to think about. Many of the DUIs I write about are people who get caught way beyond the legal limit, .12 to more than .30.
Needless to say, my counterparts and I routinely performed worse as the morning progressed. The highest my BAC reached was .099. I’m sure it ultimately was higher than that if my body had more time to process the alcohol before I was administered the breathalyzer.
The morning came to a head when after failing the third round of tests, we were handcuffed and placed in the backs of law enforcement vehicles. It was one of the most uncomfortable feelings I’ve experienced in quite some time. One of my fellow test subjects took the cuffing extraordinarily hard.
If simply sitting in the back of deputy’s truck with my wrists tightly cuffed (I had marks on my hands after only about five minutes) was that terrible, I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I had been the cause of a wreck, and God-forbid someone else’s death.
I no longer feel comfortable drinking and hitting the road after more than two drinks. And, I personally advise anyone who feels any kind of buzz to not get behind the wheel.
Next week, County10.com will publish a video piece about the event with footage from the various tests. (Click photos below to enlarge. Photos by Ernie Over, Joshua Scheer and Alyssa Lozier.)