As I mentioned in the previous Broken hearts post I was just on a course at the Justice Institute to become a Qualified Technician on the instrument we use to collect evidentiary breath sample in criminal impaired driving cases. It was a great course with great instructors and classmates, the majority of the course were fellow members from Delta and a member from another department that I went to the academy with.
Aside from the theory and the instruction we received on the instrument we had a practical day with “drinking subjects”. Members in the class could volunteer to be a drinking subject for an afternoon. It was mandatory to ensure proper transportation was organized beforehand. The drinking subjects were provided a measured amount of alcohol to obtain a target blood alcohol content (BAC) of 80mg% (the limit defined in the Criminal Code). The rest of the class then demonstrated and practiced the techniques to obtain proper breath samples.
I volunteered for an afternoon as I was curious to be able to actually measure my BAC and take note of motor skills and reaction times. I can tell you right away that I wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle anywhere near 80mg%.
The most interesting thing I learned was that after I reached my peak BAC (I never blew over 70mg%) it took quite a while for the alcohol in my body to dissipate. Over time I grew comfortable with the feeling and “felt” less impaired. However even though my body and brain compensated and “felt” less impaired my breath samples still showed high and my motor function was still impaired (reaction time, coordination, depth perception, etc). Just because I became accustomed to the feeling and felt more “normal” didn’t mean that I wasn’t impaired. If I “felt” less impaired but still showed the same signs and symptoms, I can say that my judgement was definitely impaired. It was very interesting to me to be able to experience that and measure it.
This proved to me that we need to ensure our friends and family have a plan prior to drinking and responsible people around them to ensure they don’t make the wrong decision.
I’m advocating that anyone with plans to go out and drink include a plan to get home safely. We were taught the “7 P’s” in leadership training in the Canadian Forces, the wording of the 7 P’s seems fitting in this case. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Those words can be associated to drinking and driving; Have a proper plan to get home safe. Add the cost of a shuttle or taxi to your evening’s entertainment if need be.
Please don’t use impaired judgement to determine that you’re sober enough to drive, you will be wrong.