WDRB News Investigation | How buzzed is too buzzed? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

WDRB News Investigation | How buzzed is too buzzed?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city's primed. The vibe is hot. The drinks are flowing. One of the biggest nights to hit up the bars and the bottle is upon us.

If you're a drinker, you know the night before Thanksgiving can seem like a holiday in its own right. Making the choice between beer, wine, or liquor is hardly the most important decision to be made. If you're alright to get home, is.

"You don't realize what that's doing to your body," said Indiana State Police Sgt. Philip Hensley.

When it comes to alcohol, there's an adage that's ingrained into our heads growing up: "buzzed driving is drunk driving." 

In a special investigation, we learned just how true that is.

WDRB partnered with ISP and Bluegrass Brewing Company to test four very different people on how they react to alcohol.

Lincoln, Megan, Jeremiah, and Seth volunteered.

Sgt. Philip Hensley monitored our testing for safety, and each of the volunteers had a safe and sober ride home.

After about an hour, we put of our drinkers to the test. After a breathalyzer, they sat down behind the wheel of a simulator. 

They had to take some corners, follow the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit and stay on the road.

Megan had two vodka waters and a shot of vodka. Her results were are off the charts: a whopping .163, more than double the .08 allowed by law.

"I was way over the legal limit," she said.

As you might expect, her virtual drive got ugly.

"She actually lost control at one point by running off the road. Right before she did, she said, 'oh I'm doing a pretty good job,'" Sgt. Hensley said.

On to Seth, who had four beers and a shot of Fireball. He blew just over the legal limit at .081.

"I thought I had a little more in me, but it's good to know that I don't," he said.

When he got behind the wheel, his speed was steady, but at one point he drove off the road. 

Lincoln is next. He had five beers and one shot of Fireball. He's a big guy though. His blood alcohol level was .067, under the legal limit and the very definition of buzzed. 

"When I got behind the wheel, I could definitely tell the effects of it," Lincoln said.

In the driver's seat, he became easily distracted by the conversation around him.

"His speed went up. He lost control more," Sgt. Hensley said.

Jeremiah was our last participant. He drank the least: two glasses of wine and a beer. His BAC was .033, and his driving was slower, but not better.

"When you're dropping 10-15 mph below the speed limit, that shows there's something more that's going on."

Our four volunteers illustrated three important takeaways.

First, men and women respond to alcohol differently, as demonstrated by Megan and Lincoln.

"A female certainly, because of the body make up and body mass can not handle as much alcohol as a big guy is," Sgt. Hensley said.

Second, Lincoln and Seth showed us tolerance has a lot to do with height and weight. 

"You've got a big guy like that. He can absorb a lot more alcohol, as opposed to someone with a smaller stature," Sgt. Hensley said.

Third, from our least buzzed, Jeremiah, to Megan, who was feeling it the most, everyone made critical mistakes on the road.

"Even though you may not be .08, you have no business being behind the wheel," Sgt. Hensley said.

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