How You Look Drunk: Could You Drive?

Could You Drive?
Cameras follow some volunteers' every move in an experiment to see how alcohol affects speech, skills and inhibitions.

After a few drinks, Leslie says, "I feel ridiculously wonderful and awesome." Sonny describes herself as "giggly."

It wasn't all fun and games though, as emotions came out ... and food came up.

Koku (left) is not feeling well after at least four drinks in four hours. "I feel awful. I feel too drunk. I feel like I don't have control of my person. I don't like that," she says. She spent some time in the bathroom getting sick.

Sonny (center), who hardly ever drinks alcohol, had three drinks in four hours. "I feel like I'm like 400 pounds. And I just spent half an hour in the bathroom," she says. "It seems like I've lost my brain."

After throwing up, Serena, who had nine drinks in four hours, cries, telling another participant that she used to be confident. He reminds her that earlier she did the splits in front of a crowd of people.
At the end of the evening, Officer Samson gave everyone a breathalyzer test. Over half of the people in the experiment were legally drunk.

The highest breathalyzer result registered at .212, which is almost
three times the California legal limit. "The legal limit for driving is .08 percent," says Officer Samson, who wants to remind people that you can still be impaired if you're under the legal limit. "There's people who cannot safely drive a motor vehicle well underneath that because they are impaired," he says.
Although no one was allowed to drive, after two hours into the experiment, the participants were asked if they felt they could get behind the wheel and drive home. Nine of the participants said they could.

Dr. Phil asks Officer Samson, based on what he's seen from the videotape, "If you stopped any of these people after leaving that bar, is there any question they would've been dragged off to jail?"

"For the majority of those nine people, I think we would've been responding to a collision and not actually stopping them. Their level of impairment was so great that it would be scary if they were driving a car," he replies.

"Of course people don't want to admit it, but do they also believe they're not impaired?" Dr. Phil asks.

"When we stop people, very often people think they're fine," explains Officer Samson. "And that they're not under the influence or not impaired because they can start the car, they can maneuver the car, that they're OK to drive."

Three of the people who claimed they could drive home after the drinking experiment were invited to come back for another experiment. After being monitored while they drink alcohol, Steven, Leslie and Christopher are given breathalyzers to register when they are legally drunk. Then, they each get tested in a driving simulator while intoxicated.

Steven (middle) had three drinks before his driving test. During his test, he hits two people, two dogs, gets a speeding ticket and gets in an accident. "I did poorly and I thought I would do better," he says.
After three drinks, Leslie says, "I think I can pull it off, but I don't know that it would be that great." Leslie hits three pedestrians, gets in two accidents and gets six speeding tickets.

After a few drinks, Christopher (left) says, "I feel that driving wouldn't be the right thing to do right now, but in a typical situation, it's probably what I would do." Christopher also hits three pedestrians, gets in two accidents and gets six speeding tickets.
In the studio, Steven tells Dr. Phil, "I thought I was doing well. And then when I saw the results, I realized that I was definitely impaired."

"That's the thing I want everybody to understand," says Dr. Phil. "Your objectivity is just compromised. You just don't have the ability to recognize the changes in your reaction time, your motor skills or your reasoning at all. And what can start out as a fun night, if you get behind the wheel, your life can be ruined and someone else's life can be ruined or ended."