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Can You Guess Your BAC

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A graphic that reads: "Guess Your B.A.C.?"

On a December afternoon, YRP threw a holiday party that challenged its guests with one question:

Can you guess your Blood Alcohol Concentration (B.A.C.)?
This is one participant's experience in undertaking that challenge.

It's almost 2 p.m. and I'm getting hammered. 

Constable Reed Holland, a seasoned York Regional Police breath tech, is giving me instructions for a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. I watch carefully as he places one boot in front of the other, heel to toe, demonstrating a perfect test. 

Carefully, I begin to walk the line. I'm counting my steps, just as he told me. 

Seven, eight, nine...stop. Wait a minute. Did he say pivot with my front foot? Am I supposed to turn while making large steps, or small steps? Why do my cheeks feel so hot?

Oh right, there are like a dozen cameras trained on me right now. And a dozen eager reporters ready to grill me on my test. And I know they're about to ask me if I could still get in the car and drive myself home.

I pass the test. I'm good to go. CTV Barrie's Mike Walker asks me if I will operate a motor vehicle. 

Nope. Partly because, passed test or not, I'm feeling pretty loose right now. Partly because I didn't drive my vehicle here anyway. And that makes the choice pretty easy, which is the whole point of this 'Guess Your B.A.C.' event.

As this video explains, it's pretty much impossible to predict the level of alcohol in your blood, so why risk a guess? The Media Relations Unit hosted the Guess Your B.A.C. event using a controlled group of participants to demonstrate to our community that estimating your B.A.C. is usually a losing game.

And then Chief Eric Jolliffe arrives, and I know the Intoxilyzer - the machine used by police to analyze my breath and determine my B.A.C. - awaits me at the end of this mess. So it's time for a few more.

Auxiliary Constable Amanda Rojas-Silva is the first to drop. She's had four drinks, only one more than the three she predicted she could have and remain stone-cold sober. But there she blows - 99, in fact, 30 less than she guessed. Staff Sergeant Sarah Riddell cuts her off and she's officially out of the rat race. 

 

Photo Gallery: Can You Guess Your B.A.C. will appear here on the public site.

 

The drinks go down easier. Fourteen of them in total. Along the way, I've seen my drinking buddies of the day guess high and blow low, like Auxiliary Constable Matthew Winch, who barely reached the warn range after eight drinks. Still, Winch told reporters that he was already very drunk, while sipping on his final vodka drink.

Others, like local crime writer Jeremy Grimaldi, guessed low and blew high. Grimaldi stumbled around and flunked his SFST badly. But he assures the crowd that he's not overly intoxicated, because he was mostly drinking beer. He's wrong.

And in the end, what do 14 drinks in 2.5 hours net me for a reading? 125.

Not nearly as high as expected, but thoroughly drunk. And just like 1,500 impaired drivers charged this year in York Region, the officer administering the test was kind enough to print me off a receipt to prove it. But the next time I plan on getting behind the wheel after a holiday party, I might consider the thought Auxiliary Constable Winch shared with the media after all the drinks had been poured:

"It's obvious to me now, the safest number is zero."