Special Report: Is tipsy the new drunk?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 24, 2013
Tipsy may be the new drunk after a proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board to lower the legal limit behind the wheel from .05 to .08.
Even a few drinks could end up a few too many.
Four in Your Corner is finding out just how fast you could hit that limit and just how hard it could be to enforce.
"There's going to be some challenges in this, there's no doubt, if in fact we do go to a .05," says John Gscheidmeier with the Milwaukee Area Technical College. MATC is near our company headquarters. Instructors there train police how to enforce drunk driving.
Our volunteers, Journal Broadcast Group employees Courtney and Clark, agreed to go to MATC and from there it was bottoms up. The goal was to give sobriety tests and gauge their reaction to alcohol at .05 and .08.
After two beers in about 45 minutes, Courtney blows a .046 with a breathalyzer. Clark blew .049. He was extremely surprised by the numbers.
But, during a field sobriety test, both Clark and Courtney are able to walk in a straight line, stand on one foot and their eyes didn't bounce around while focusing on a finger.
"Their field sobriety tests were nearly perfect," said Gschedmeier. "More than likely we would not have proceeded much beyond that."
Police can only use a breathalyzer if they have reasonable cause or catch mistakes in a sobriety test. Instructors say without being able to catch the warning signs, .05 may be like the texting while driving law, practically unenforceable unless there is a crash.
"From a training perspective from an alcohol enforcement standpoint it's going to present some challenges for law enforcement," says Gschedmeier.
After 2 beers Courtney and Clark were tested at .06.
After four beers and two hours in, Courtney blows a .09 and Clark is not far behind her. However, Clark says he does not feel impaired at all and feels like he could drive a car.
However, this time the field sobriety test gives it all away. Both Courtney and Clark's eyes bounce during the eye test. A sign that instructors say can only be picked up at .08.
Police instructors say the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs to study the proposal more closely. If the limit is lowered it may require a whole new test and for police across the country to be completely retrained.