Reporter’s Failed Sobriety Test Doesn’t Prove Much

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A proposed law change from the National Transportation Safety Board to lower the nationwide BAC limit from .08 to .05 has created polarizing opinions on both sides of the issue. Sacramento news station KXTV decided to try the issue by sending a reporter to get drunk at a police station and then test out her ability to drive afterwards on a simulator. As you can see in the video, the reporter passed a breathalyzer test but crashed within a minute of getting in the simulator and later failed a field sobriety test.

The point of the piece, which was then syndicated nationwide by the Gannet Company, was to indicate that the current limit is too high. The reporter had two beers and was clearly unable to drive. Just by looking at the reporter, it appears that lowering the limit to .05 effectively makes one beer enough to get you a D.U.I. The problem was how they went about the story.

KXTV selected Suzane Phan, a self-described 100 pound, 5’1” tall female — or, the person who physically has the lowest alcohol tolerance and stereotype says has the worst driving ability. She also drinks Anchor Stream during the report, a beer which has about 15 percent more alcohol by volume than Bud Light or Miller Lite. She drank two beers in 20 minutes and blew a .076, allowing her to post a high number just below the current legal limit.

Within the first minute of operating the D.U.I. driving simulator, Phan says that despite only going 35 miles per hour, she has drifted into the wrong lane. Seconds later she ends up hitting a visual stop sign. Unless that simulator she played was on the final lap of Mario Kart 64’s Rainbow Road, there is no excuse to crash into something within a minute of starting. It’s not too farfetched to assume she wouldn’t have done well on that simulator sober.

No matter what you think of proposed legislation to lower the BAC level, there is no reason to drive drunk (especially when you have pledges to do that for you). As good as you think you are driving drunk, there are many people who you know are way worse than they think they are. In addition to all the people who are terrible drivers while sober, this leads to the accidents and damage that cause the Safety Board to change the nation’s laws.

This becomes wrong when political organizations and media entities push forward an agenda when it’s not entirely justified. Suzane Phan was about the worst possible person to put on this story. It wouldn’t be very interesting if a 6’4”, 250 pound man drank his two beers and passed easily. Yes, everyone needs to be prepared for the mistakes from drivers worse than themselves. This becomes problematic when law changes punish people who otherwise would be able to handle a .08 without posing a threat to the public.

[via AZ Central]

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