Happy hour at the cop shop

What can I get you to drink?

It’s a question most university students have heard before. From a waitress through the murmuring chatter of a pub, or from a bartender screaming over the bass at a club. But have any of you heard it from a police officer? And at the police station of all places?

On September 30th, Sputnik Arts & Entertainment editor, Lindsay Grummett, along with other members of the media, took to the bottle at the Brantford Police Station for training in the use of breathalyzers.

The course was held in order to update the skills of breath technicians from Brantford Police Service, Peel Regional Police Service, Six Nations Police Service and Hamilton Police Service, who are all receiving training on the new Intoxilyzer 8000C, upgraded from the previous 5000C model.

“To have them [the breath technicians] trained, we need people who actually consume alcohol so they can actually use the instruments for what they’re made for,” says Constable Scott Gibson, organizer of the event.

Grummett, along with the other “drinking subjects,” stood in a small circle in the Community Room at the Brantford Police Station, talking, and drinking from their choice of beer, vodka, whisky, rye and rum. The subjects were given an hour to drink, up to a maximum of five drinks.

After the hour was up, Gibson led the way down a narrow hall to the testing room. The subjects laughed and joked about how high they were going to blow.

“Over,” said Grummett, the scent of vodka sticking to her breath, “but I don’t know how much. I do think I’ll blow over though. For sure.”

The legal limit for drivers under the age of 22 is zero, following a new law initiated August 1st 2010, under the Road Safety Act 2009 (Bill 126). The legal limit for drivers over the age of 22 is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or as it’s more commonly known, “.08.” These numbers are recorded following a breath sample given by the drinker.

“The basic premise is that when a subject breathes into the Intoxilyzer 8000, based on how much alcohol is in their blood stream, we get a reading,” says Gibson. “Basically, once the breath goes in, it’s analyzed, and we get an output of what the alcohol content is.”

As Grummett and the other subjects entered the room, they were immediately flagged down by uniformed police officers sitting beside the Intoxilyzer 8000C machine.

Let the testing begin.

In her first run at the machine, Grummett blew a 131, meaning she had 131mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her bloodstream – about one and a half times the legal limit.

“You can top that,” one officer joked.

Following twelve tests at several different machines, she topped out at 162 on her last blow – just over double the legal limit.

Leading us out of the station, Gibson thanked the subjects for their involvement and said he hoped they learned some of the different affects of alcohol on the body.

Skipping and laughing her way to her car, this was a lesson I think Ms. Grummett learned very well.

Good thing I was driving.

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