This is a great idea with just a few concerns. This new program allows people to see what their results are. I cannot tell you how many clients come in telling me they believe they are likely near .08% only to be suprised when their blood results come back and they are significantly higher. It seems San Diego establishments are not skimping on their alcohol content in drinks. Many locations give “heavy pours”. This does not include San Diego’s wonderful selection of IPAs and heavier alcohol content beers. The result is many people walk around with BACs higher than normal thinking they had just a few drinks.
One thing I would like to be certain about is whether the machines are calibrated. The PAS device is notorious for reading high. I guess it would be good for people to believe their BAC is higher than it actually is right?
One final concern is this…will SDPD arrest someone for public intoxication if they come up and blow a .26%? That would be messed up. I hope there is something in place where if they believe the person is publicly intoxicated they can assist them home and not arrest. This would be interesting to find out. Until then I hope they keep this program going.
Thousands of people walking past police officers set up in front of a wrecked car at nightspots have stopped to take voluntary breathalyzer tests in recent months.
The set-up is part of the San Diego Police Department’s monthly My B.A.C. outreach program, a first-of-its-kind effort to reduce San Diego DUI arrests by educating people about the consequences of driving while drunk.
Police say drunken driving-related accidents have resulted in 14 deaths in San Diego the past three years.
Officers tested the alcohol-blood levels of 800 passersby in the Gaslamp District on March 12, 266 people in North Park on Feb. 26, 377 in Pacific Beach on Jan. 15 and 566 in the Gaslamp on Dec. 16, Sgt. Ernesto Servin said.
As a person or group walk by, officers ask them if they would like to take a voluntary breathalyzer test, assuring them the testing is done without consequences. As the officer prepares a breathalyzer, the subject is often asked to guess his or her own blood-alcohol level. The person then inhales and breaths into the breathalyzer until it clicks.
Before showing a person the results, the officer asks: “Do you think you’re OK to drive?”
“Many tell us, ‘Yes,’ and they are extremely surprised to know they are well over the legal limit,” said Nicole Roberts, a detective with the Traffic Investigations Unit, who was one of five police officers testing blood-alcohol levels on University Avenue at 30th Street in North Park on Feb. 26.
Servin said the police officers report the number of people tested – and the results – to the police chief’s office.
“I’m really surprised at the diversity of people that stop by-old, young-and the wide variety of ethnic backgrounds,” he said.
Roberts said most people are curious about their blood-alcohol level when they walk by, because they don’t typically know how alcohol is affecting them.
“It’s good for people to step back and associate an actual number with the number of drinks they’ve had, or to realize that the drink they thought was one beer was actually equivalent to two beers, or three beers, and that not all alcohols are the same,” she said.
Adam Stemmler of South Park and Kristen Miller of City Heights decided to try out the breathalyzer screening in North Park after noticing the crashed car. Both took a test and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent. Stemmler said the result was what he expected his blood-alcohol level to be, while Miller said it was higher than she thought.
“I think it’s important for people to be cognizant of what the law says versus what their perception says,” Stemmler said.
The highest blood-alcohol level in typically about 0.20, well over the legal threshold of .08 percent, beyond which motorists are considered too impaired to drive. Roberts said most people who were shown a 0.20 or above know they weren’t OK to drive but were surprised their blood-alcohol level were that high.
Stemmler said the initiative displays the “protect-and-serve side” of police officers’ duties.
“I think it’s really good to see police officers and government agencies in general being proactive in preventing problems versus being retroactive about reprimanding problems,” he said. “Efforts like this are really refreshing to see, because I think a lot of citizens only see the law when they don’t want to see the law.”
Servin said the three neighborhoods were chosen for the outreach efforts because of the concentration of bars and high number of San Diego DUI arrests and crashes in the areas.
My B.A.C., which is funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, has the support of the Pacific Beach, Gaslamp and North Park business improvement districts. Servin said they might take the program to other areas.
San Diego DUI arrests in San Diego have steadily declined from 4,344 in 2008 to 1,815 in 2014, according to the police department and the California Office of Traffic Safety. Servin attributes the downward trend to police enforcement and a growing public awareness about drunken driving.
The state grant, which also pays for 57 DUI checkpoints in the city, runs through September, Servin said, and the department has already applied for another.
The next My B.A.C. session is scheduled for Pacific Beach from 8 p.m. April 16 until 2 a.m. the following day.
The full article can be found here.
Penal Code 647(f) Public Intoxication:
(f) Who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.
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