ABC-13 reporter attempts drunk driving course

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston police officers hone their driving skills on a closed course, which they opened up for Eyewitness News.

Miya Shay took to the track to see what happens when you drink and drive.

"We've led the nation for I don't even know how many years for drunk driving deaths," said Houston police officer Don Egdorf.

Egdorf is a member of Houston Police Department's DWI task force and says the only way to show the dangers of drinking and driving is to do it in a controlled environment. So that's exactly what Miya did.

An HPD driving instructor showed her the basic course. Fully sober, she tried to navigate turns, a serpentine maneuver, reverse, and parallel park all within one minute and 25 seconds. The course was challenging for even for a sober driver.

Then, officers measured out milliliters of alcohol based the driver's weight. The drivers drank for an hour and measured their breaths.

After one round of drinks, Miya blew a 0.073, not even past the legal limit of 0.08. She then went through field sobriety tests and got behind the wheel again. This time they threw a ball at her while driving. The ball represented a child who might dart into the street. Miya didn't see the ball at all.

"That was probably your worst event out of the whole deal," one officer told Miya.

Other drivers faced similar challenges, and that was just after one round of drinks.

To simulate what offices usually see in the streets, they gave each driver more alcohol, which was the equivalent of eight or nine drinks. Under the close supervision of police officers, each participant drove the course again.

Parallel parking was virtually impossible, and many drivers reported that the cones seemed much closer together.

"Most of you guys come off the track you're thinking, man I did great, I didn't even hit anything. You don't even realize you ran cones over," police officer said.

Police say the lighthearted driving attempts underscore the serious problem that even well-intentioned drivers cannot responsibly control a moving vehicle, and do not know when they're impaired.

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