Students gets crash course in inebriation

By Daniella Gaines

It seems easy. Walk nine steps heel-to-toe on a line and counting out loud and then walk heel-to-toe back to the spot where you started. With a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit, doing this seemingly simple task becomes impossible.

Students attempted field sobriety tests while wearing goggles that simulate being intoxicated as part of a Halloween alcohol awareness campaign on Thursday. The goggles mimic a blood alcohol count of .17 to .20. The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers who are 21 or older is .08.

“I thought I could do it until I put the glasses on,” said Chet Bandy, senior in Business. “I couldn’t even see the line. I don’t drink and drive now, but an event like this definitely drives it home that it is not a good idea to drive after a night out.”

Each student who completed the sobriety test was given a free water bottle and other giveaways. Students also attempted to shoot a basketball with the goggles on.

The event was hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety, Illinois State Police, Illinois Drug Education Alliance and University and local police departments.

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The organizations provided literature on drunken driving accidents, drinking safety and drinking laws. Pictures of alcohol-related accidents and accident reports were available for students to see the damage caused by such accidents.

“It is important to make people aware that the holiday season is coming up and there is a lot more activity and driving home on break,” said Steve Mechling, University patrol officer. “We want everyone to get home and back to school safe.”

Mechling also encouraged students to take caution whenever they are drinking alcohol. He suggests students have the equivalent of a designated driver when just going to a party or bar hopping. Drinking safety issues in the past have included students falling off of balconies, walking in front of vehicles, and choking on their own vomit.

“Being impaired and just walking around can be dangerous,” Mechling said. “You have to look out for bicycle, vehicle and bus traffic as well as other people’s conduct. It is a good idea to have one person who would be in charge, like a chaperone.”