Debunking the Wine with Dinner Myth - Breathalyzer Challenge 3Posted by: Kenny Chan onJune 14th, 2012
The whole 0.05 debate has reared its ugly head again with the related Traffic Safety Act amendments being proclaimed into force this week by Transportation Minister Ric Mciver. It reminded me that I have not posted the results from our last test with the breathalyzer. There are many Albertans that are very vocal about the new harsher penalities that are expected to be handed out starting September 1st. A lot of it is due to confusion about the whole 0.05 limit and how much it really takes to reach that point. Take for instance this comment left on the CTV website by Shelly:
As a rural resident of Alberta, I am now not going to be able to have one beer (0.05% alcohol) with my friends after work as this would put me over the limit. I cannot afford to take a cab home ($ 25.00 one way). It is sad that the “drunks” out there have made it this way for people like us, who enjoy an occasional one drink with our friends and to socialize maybe once a month. I am thinking I better look at the alcohol content of my cough syrup as well, as one teaspoon could put me over the legal limit.
Listen, its going to take more than one beer to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 and thats why we keep publishing these tests. I think once the facts are laid out, we should have more people being in support of the new penalties when BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08. Some also argue that many of the deaths on our roads are caused by drunks that are well over 0.08 and that there is no reason to increase the penalties for those that are in the “warn” range. By increasing the penalties in the warning range and the mere fact that many are worried about being over the 0.05 mark, I think its a positive step. People should be thinking twice about drinking and driving period, regardless of what they’ll end up blowing and believe me a few drinks over dinner with friends will be just fine.
Anyway, on to our results. For this latest test we modelled it after a scenario that is often repeated when the whole 0.05 talk comes up. Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith feels that harsher penalties for those driving while over the 0.05 limit are an infringement on individual liberty.
“(The problem) is (they’re) going after those who are enjoying a drink or two
after work with friends or sharing a bottle of wine over dinner,” - Danielle Smith
We gathered a group of friends for dinner and wine. To make it more interesting for our participants we turned it into a wine tasting challenge for them to see if they could correctly identify the more expensive wines in the mix but for the purposes of our breathalyzer experiment we controlled and noted the amount of wine each guest drank. We also let each guest drink as much wine as they would normally drink at dinner to keep the results varied and more realistic.
The wine was consumed over the course of approximately 2 hours over dinner and of course the discussion of the wine tasting challenge. I learned that I actually prefer the taste of inexpensive wines (yay!) and was able to identify all the expensive varieties by simply choosing the ones I did not like ;)
The only three non-zero readings were 0.030, 0.025 and 0.010. Interestingly enough all of them were from our female subjects (and if ethnicity matters the readings were from half asian, white and half asian respectively)–look, we tried to get it as white as we could :). This backs up studies that have shown that women generally process alcohol differently (read: slower) than males. Our bodies just work differently. Everybody else (4 males, 1 female) blew a 0.000. This doesn’t mean there was absolutely no alcohol in our system, the breathalyzer we used is not sensitive enough to measure anything lower than 0.010 so these five readings were in the 0.000 to 0.009 range.
The readings were taken approximately 30-45 minutes after the wine was consumed. Again we tried not to control this too much because we tried to simulate the scenario outlined earlier. In the real world this would be similar to rolling through a checkstop as soon as you got into your vehicle after leaving dinner.
If you’re approaching 0.05, you will know it. Your reaction will be slower, your balance will be off and you’re pretty much well… impaired. Sure, you’ll probably drive just fine but you will be slower to react to any situation on the road and the risk that you’ll be involved in a collision will go up. The increased penalties are making people talk about drinking and driving and it sounds as though it’ll deter some people from getting behind the wheel which is great. Worried about losing your individual liberties and not being able to grab a drink after work? Well stop because that simply IS NOT TRUE.
Results list for the number nerds are below. It was really difficult finding out how much everyone weighed but we coaxed it out of everyone eventually but promised to not include any names with the results.
Male - 220lbs - 1 glass 0.000 BAC
Female - 130lbs - 1 glass 0.010 BAC
Female - 85lbs - 1.5 glasses 0.030 BAC
Male - 210lbs - 0.5 glasses 0.000 BAC
Male - 200lbs - 2 glasses 0.000 BAC
Female - 135lbs - 2 glasses 0.000 BAC
Female - 140lbs - 2 glasses 0.025 BAC
Male - 180lbs - 1 glass 0.000 BAC