drinking and driving

A social experiment by Colorado Department of Transportation

To drive home the point that just a few drinks can put a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, the Colorado Department of Transportation recently punked people with what appeared to be a real tour of three breweries.

“A Few Brews: A Craft Brewery Tour” was actually an experiment devised by the department, which hired actors to play the tour guides.

The tour brought the participants to three breweries in Denver over a three-hour period, Chhun Sun wrote for The Gazette.

Drinking and Driving

Although the van driver, James, pretended to drink alcohol at each stop on the tour, none of the tour participants appeared to mind that he was drinking and driving. Only at the end of the tour was it revealed that he was actually drinking non-alcoholic beer.

The tour guide, Jack, drank real beer. CDOT said that since he was about the same size as the driver, the two would likely experience the same level of impairment if both were drinking. The tour guide’s BAC was 0.05 (Driving While Ability Impaired) after only one 16-ounce craft beer, 0.08 (Driving Under the Influence) after two, and 0.10 after three.

CDOT Communications Manager of Traffic Safety Sam Cole said:

The experiment confirmed for us that many adults underestimate the dangers associated with driving after having a few drinks. The participants never expressed concern that their driver was drinking and driving […] This false sense of security that you can have two or three drinks and be fine needs to be challenged. It’s an illusion that continues to put Coloradans in danger. You are 400% more likely to crash when impaired.

A CDOT survey in 2015 found that 70% of men between 21 and 35 believe they can drive safely after one or two drinks. Fully one-third of all deaths in traffic accidents in Colorado are related to consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Emotional Reaction

Tour participants were surprised when the real purpose of the tour was revealed at the end. One of them said: “I obviously should’ve said something […] like ‘why is our driver drinking?!” Another one emotionally said that when he is driving after drinking, “I’m like, ‘I’m alright.’ I don’t care if something happens to ME. But if I drive somewhere and I kill somebody […]” A third was very happy to have been a part of the experiment if it can save even one life.

CDOT is sharing news of this experiment on social media and is urging people to not drive if they have been drinking. You can see CDOT’s video about this experiment here. It points out that on an average day, 77 people are arrested in Colorado for driving while impaired. 

In another article in The Gazette, Rich Laden writes that craft beers are extremely popular in Colorado.  There are 230 breweries in the state, in addition to all the brewpubs, restaurants, and bars that serve locally produced beers.