It is 10:55 on a Wednesday night. I’ve drunk an entire bottle of wine in an hour and am three sheets to the wind. I’ll kill your whole family in a terrible car accident if you let me behind the wheel. My motor skills are clumsy and my thought processes are all over the map. I’m completely inebriated and in absolutely no condition to drive.
Yet, according to police experts and a breathalyzer test – several in fact – , I am not legally impaired.
Make no mistake. I am pissed. As pissed as I have ever been, and I have walked into a public venue with approximately 150 people who saw me drunk. It was embarrassing.
I’ve taken poetic licence with editorials in the past. This is not one of those times. I am truly drunk. My vision is blurred. I forgot to let my dogs in after their last pee for the night. Thankfully I wasn’t too drunk to hear that bit of barking or they might have frozen to death, but I did almost fall down the stairs when I went to let them in.
Do you really want a man like me behind the wheel when your wife, husband, daughter, son, grandchildren are coming home from work or a hockey game? I’ll kill the lot of them with no more thought than I am sober enough to drive and I need to get home. Sure I am. The police blowy thing even said so. I’m ten-feet tall and full of piss and vinegar.
Wednesday night [Feb. 20] I had the honour of being a test subject in the Morinville Citizens’ Academy session on impaired driving. The test: Take a 230 pound reporter, feed him a bottle of wine over an hour, and have him blow into a breathalyzer device every 15 minutes with Sgt. Chris Narbonne cracking wise the drunker I got.
One glass and 15 minutes resulted in .014. Two glasses and 30 minutes, a point which I remarked I would never think of stepping behind the wheel, and I blew .028. Three full glasses of wine pounded down like a freshman at a frat party and I blew .048 – still under the point where I’d be suspended for three days and have my car locked up. It wasn’t until four full glasses (each downed in a single gulp) that I blew .06. It is that point where the province’s former penalties would give me a 24-hour suspension and where the new penalties would de-horse my car and me for three days on a first offence.
But in the interest of police science and public good, not to mention the taste of a nice red wine, I downed the final half glass. I left the bottle empty and left my remaining resistance to the demon alcohol in the same abandoned corner with the rest of my inhibitions. Fifteen minutes later and I still blew .06, enough to park my chariot for three days, but far from the legal limits that would deem me impaired.
I’m home safe and sound in my pyjamas and housecoat, reporting on my experiences in some feeble attempt to warn others of the realities of drinking and driving. I merely blew a caution after a bottle of wine. Imagine how much drunker I’d need to be for police to charge me with impaired. If I didn’t feel so sick to my stomach, I might pour myself a scotch.
But I know this. If I were on the road tonight, I’d likely kill your family.
Editor’s note: For those reading this outside the community – the participant walked to the test event and was driven safely home by Morinville RCMP.
This is an excellent column and paints a picture of the truth behind drinking and driving. I went through this same type of testing when I was a member of the ATSB and was about 200 pounds at the time. I ended up with similar results and found that after 3 glasses of wine I was in no condition to drive but still could.
I think it is time that a discussion is held federally about changing the federal legal limit from 0.08 mg/ml to 0.05 so that we have more than just administrative penalties.
Drinking and then driving is a choice. One that is made incorrectly (People drink and then get behind the wheel) far too often and one that we are far to tolerant of.
A modest proposal, Rob Ladouceur.