FYI, I’ve already volunteered to serve as a “test subject” the next time the CHP holds this event.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Three beverage distribution company employees got drunk on duty Thursday — all in the interest of science and safety.
It was during a California Highway Patrol presentation to teach bartenders and restaurant workers how to tell when a customer has had too much to drink.
The event, attended by bartenders and servers from throughout the Whittier area, was held at Triangle Distributing Co. in Santa Fe Springs, which supplies beer to many local bars and restaurants.
“What we try to show you is some things to look out for,” Capt. Dan Minor of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs office told the servers. When it comes to preventing drunken driving, “You’re the first line of defense.”
Triangle employees Max Leyva, Vince Mendez and Norm Kitano volunteered to be guinea pigs for the educational experiment, steadily drinking beer for about an hour as CHP officers and servers gauged their levels of intoxication.
“This is a sacrifice we do for our company,” Leyva quipped after downing seven beers.
Each of the three participants was given breath tests to check their blood alcohol, and CHP officers administered field sobriety tests, just like the ones done on the roadside when drunken driving is suspected.
Signs of inebriation include nystagmus, or involuntary eye movement, problems with coordination, difficulty dividing attention between tasks and altered perception of time, participants learned.
“It’s not just one thing at a time — it’s everything put together,” Officer Cory Baker said, adding that alcohol effects everyone differently.
In addition, officers also talked with servers about how not to be fooled by fake IDs, offering tips such as examining the texture and font size of ID cards and making sure the photo hasn’t been altered.
The CHP hosts similar events several times a year, Minor said. Officials especially like to hold them around holidays known for drinking, such as St. Patrick’s Day, which is March 17.
Karina Magana, a 22-year-old server at Shipmate’s Sports Bar in Cerritos, said she found the class “really helpful.”
“It really helps to see how fast the beer can hit you,” she said.
Sara Brinsfield, 22, Frank Larios, 19, and Chelsea Ramsay, 18, all Whittier residents and employees of Pizzamania in Whittier, attended the class.
“It’s good knowledge. I’d definitely recommend it,” Brinsfield said.
“We learned more of what we should look for, (like) how people walk to the bathroom,” she said.
Some servers said they were surprised to learn that a person can be convicted of drunken driving if driving under the influence of alcohol, even if their blood-alcohol level is below the legal limit of .08.
Larios said he learned some new techniques for confirming the legitimacy of ID cards.
The point of Thursday’s exercise is to try and get ahead of drunken driving-related crashed before they occur, Minor said.
“In the end, it’s all about traffic safety,” he said.