A few weeks go my editor sends out an e-mail asking for volunteers to — get this — get tipsy at work.
First thought: Score! Second thought: What’s the catch?
The catch is that we were to be tested by the California Highway Patrol to find out at what point we were impaired, and how many drinks it took to get us over the .08 blood-alcohol level, the legal limit for drivers.
At the time I volunteered, I felt my logic was pretty solid.
Generally, I go out (or stay in), I drink, and for the most part, I’m responsible about it. But on occasion I’ve been over to a friend’s house for dinner and driven home, realizing at some point en route that maybe making the two-mile drive was a sketchy choice.
So knowing the exact limit would be an-eye opening experience. I figured at best, I’d find out I was pretty solid and had some secret amazing tolerance. At worst, I’d know that after a glass of wine I shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery.
I signed up alongside American Canyon Eagle Editor Mike Waterson. He’s a solid male in his 50s, and I’m a smaller, younger gal. A perfect set of guinea pigs.
You may have already read Register staff writer Alisha Wyman’s extensive Oct. 31 series of stories on this experiment and DUIs in general, but here’s the Cliff Notes version of the test: I was over the limit after three glasses of red wine. Mike wasn’t, even after four. Shocker, I know.
In fact, I showed “signs of impairment” after two glasses. I was under the legal limit at .053. My cheeks were flushed, and I was a little buzzed, but I probably would have driven home had I been in the real world.
Now, I know there’s no way. It’s not worth it.
We always hear “Don’t drink and drive.” Right, like it’s that easy. The fact is, many of us have done it, and likely more than once.
I’m not talking about the drunk where you’re stumbling or even know you’re impaired. I mean that feeling you have when you’ve had a glass or two or three at a long dinner party, and now you have to get yourself back home.
During the test, after one glass I felt normal. At two, I felt like I had had some wine, but would have been confident driving. At three, I was giddy and knew I shouldn’t be driving. At four, I was toast.
The field sobriety tests were hard, as officers are asking you to do three or four things at once. But by the time we were three glasses in, it was next to impossible to focus on the tests.
I touched my nose. I counted correctly. I followed the officer’s finger with my eyes. I stood pretty solid. I walked the straight line. I, the intoxicated one, thought I was a sobriety test rock star.
Mr. CHP did not. He said my eyeballs were shaky, and that my body was not under control. Unsurprisingly, he also said my demeanor gave me away.
No kidding! At that point I was into my fourth glass of wine in about two hours. He wouldn’t have been too smooth, either, had he been in my Sketchers.
Now that I’ve been educated, I have no excuse. I know that one glass is it. Anything more than that is irresponsible. The last thing I want to do is run into those officers again. They know how I act when I’ve been drinking.
Gal on the Go appears every other week, alternating with Jennifer Huffman’s Surrendering to Motherhood. Contact Michelle at email@example.com.