With police watching, volunteers test their abilities after a few drinks...or 12

It was just before 7 p.m. and Venice resident Ramon Kang had already consumed 10 Coors Lite beers inside the dimly lit bar at the Elks Lodge.

After three hours of drinking, his blood alcohol level was at .12 and police officials were now ready to test his motor skills.

Kang, 36, was instructed to walk nine steps with his heel touching his toe, but spectators quickly spotted his missteps, including staring at his toes and stalling on his next move.

“What alcohol does is it impairs your judgment,” he said. “It changes your perception, so if you think that you shouldn’t drive home, you are going to drive home, but there is also the idea, ‘How else are you going to get home?’

Kang was one of five volunteers who on Thursday night consumed alcohol in the name of public education at the Elks Lodge in Glendale. For some, beer was the drink of choice. For others, like Art Nuñez, it was 12 cranberry and vodkas.

As spectators watched, the drinkers submitted themselves to a battery of field sobriety tests to check their levels of impairment.

“We are trying to see how alcohol affects people at different rates,” Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen said.

The Crescenta Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition, California Narcotic Officers’ Assn., National Education Foundation of America and the Elks Lodge drug-awareness program sponsored the class.

Lt. Devin Chase of the Torrance Police Department said height, weight and muscle play a factor in how much alcohol a person can consume and how it distributes throughout the body.

A person can drink as fast as they can, but their body can only eliminate a certain amount at a time.

Drinkers often focus too much on not drinking more than 0.08 -- the legal blood alcohol limit -- but they shouldn’t because alcohol “immediately starts to impair you,” Allen said.

“The best thing to do is to not drink and drive ever,” he said.

Glendale police have arrested 1,003 motorists for DUI so far this year, according to the Police Department’s October statistics. That number is up from 617 for the same period last year.

The department created a DUI team in January to focus on cracking down on inebriated motorists.

In August, DUI arrests were up 103% compared to the same period in 2011, according to PoliceDepartment statistics.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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