Our view: Sobering lessons from ‘wet lab’


It’s the time of year when driving-under-the-influence arrests are most common. So five Santa Clarita Valley civic-minded residents proved to themselves this week that their preconceptions about getting drunk – and according to California Highway Patrol officers, many other people’s preconceptions about getting drunk – are just plain wrong.

It was a sobering lesson during an otherwise festive time of year: You can get drunk on one cocktail. After you quit drinking, you become more drunk.

Each individual’s body weight and other factors, including quantity of food in the stomach, determine how alcohol will affect him or her.

In other words, that little chart that you get in the mail with your new driver’s license, the one that shows how much you can drink by weight before driving, may have absolutely no relevance to you.

And while .08 percent blood-alcohol content is officially the maximum legal limit for driving in California, drivers can be arrested with considerably lower levels than that, CHP officers said during the “wet lab” test sponsored by The Signal at its new Centre Pointe offices Monday.

However, participants – whose task was to imbibe under CHP monitoring for the wet lab – all reported feeling drunk long before hitting the .08 percent level as measured by officers using breathalyzers.

Judging from the level of boisterousness and loud laughter coming from the testing room, participants’ reports were indeed true.

“In reality you are most likely not sober enough to drive after one cocktail at happy hour,” summed up participant and nurse Kristine Alfaro. At least, that was the reality for her.

We urge you to read The Signal’s special report on the wet lab test starting on pages A-10 and A-11 in today’s paper.

We thank the five volunteers – Alfaro and personal trainer Patrick Dietz, Wolf Creek Brewery and Restaurant owner Laina McFerren, real estate agent Michael Lebecki and nurse Katelyn Tatar – for participating in the wet lab.

But most of all, we hope readers take their lessons to heart. As the wet lab testers proved to themselves and, we hope, also to others, any amount of alcohol causes impairment, and being tested at less than .08 percent blood alcohol is no guarantee that you won’t be arrested.

It’s a matter of how much impairment you are willing to risk in exchange for your driver’s license and, potentially, your freedom, your job, your life and others’ lives – keeping in mind that if you leave that decision until after a few drinks, it will be an impaired decision.

The Santa Clarita Valley these days offers taxi services, Uber and Lyft, along with some private agencies that will get you home safely after a few drinks, and in some cases your car, too.

If you’re going to a holiday party where alcohol will be served, plan ahead and make arrangements before you go, while you’re still sober. Don’t risk your life – or someone else’s – for one night’s good time.


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