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Cops get radio hosts drunk ... for a cause

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
December 22nd, 2010

 The community of Castlegar just got to spend the morning listening to beloved radio personalities Drex & Johnson get progressively more drunk over the course of more than three hours, on air, and with police in the room.

Not your standard radio programming, the “social experiment” was the brain child of West Kootenay Traffic Services Cpl. John Ferguson, and executed as a means to educate the public on impaired driving laws and penalties.
 
Periodic breathalyzer tests administered throughout the morning helped demonstrate how much, and how quickly, alcohol was entering the bloodstreams of three physically disparate participants.
 
Also participating was Mountain FM account executive Marcella Chernoff, who had a single piece of pizza and drank wine, while Johnson belted back beer after three slices of pizza, and Drex gulped rum, having only eaten a single cookie.(The food and alcohol were provided by the Element Bar and Grill’s Florio Vassilakakis, who sponsored the whole affair in an effort to promote public awareness around impaired driving).
 
Both men were visibly impaired by the end of the morning while never blowing over the legal blood alcohol limit. Johnson peaked at .056 after a six pack, while Drex hit .051 after six rum-and-cokes (although there was likely less than a full ounce in those highballs).
 
Chernoff, after a bottle of wine, blew .111, well over the legal limit of .08, while appearing less intoxicated than the men around her.
 
It’s interesting to note, though, that both men reported feeling impaired and unable to drive with readings as low as .038 – and Cpl. Ferguson was very, very clear in underlining the reality that you can face trail and conviction without ever exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit.
 
After four beers and a reading of just .036, Johnson said, “I don’t feel like I could drive … but I do feel like I’m going to crack another beer.”
 
After four less-than-an-ounce highballs and a reading of .041Drex said, “I don’t feel tipsy, I feel drunk.”
 
Some interesting listener questions were brought forward as well – apparently, burping can create a falsely-high breathalyzer reading (as a result of the stomach gasses and fumes being released), but intentionally, repeatedly burping to confound the machine can get you charged with refusing a breathalyzer test.
 
Another listener asked if physical activity such as dancing could help reduce the blood alcohol level, and Ferguson said “no”.
 
“You’ll get rid of a small amount through perspiration, but mostly it’s just time,” he said.
 
An intriguing point that arose involved the time it takes for the alcohol to hit your bloodstream – which Ferguson said can vary dramatically depending on a number of factors such as whether and how much you’ve eaten.The point being, you could get in your car still sober, but arrive at your destination drunk as the alcohol is ingested and hits your bloodstream.
 
Likewise, if you blow above the ‘warn’ limit on a breathalyzer, you can request a second test on a separate machine …but may find yourself blowing even higher and ending up with a full-on impaired charge.
 
At the end of the “experiment”, the participants went home to sleep it off, but not before agreeing that the surprisingly low readings are absolutely not license to drive after upwards of four drinks.
 
“There’s no way I could drive like this. You have to pay attention to your body, be aware of how you’re feeling,” said Johnson. “Or better yet, just arrange for a ride before you go out, then you don’t have to worry about it at all.”
 
Click here to read the corresponding Out of Left Field column regarding the unorthodox event.
 
Ed Note: All three participants handed over their car keys first thing this morning, and committed to not driving for the rest of the day.

 

 

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