On Saturday (Sep. 5) night, Laguna Beach police officers stole the show
as they asked patrons at downtown bars and restaurants to provide a breath sample.
Officers obtained voluntary breath samples from 66 patrons at eight establishments
during a three-hour Know Your Limit campaign.
In 2012, Laguna Beach police arrested 581 people on suspicion of driving
under the influence, the most of the 105 similar-sized cities in California,
Lt. Jeff Calvert told the
Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot in an email.
Laguna Beach has partnered with the Office of Traffic Safety in the campaign
and held its first exercise with bar patrons in December 2014 with the
help of Huntington Beach police.
This tactic aimed at reducing the number of inebriated motorists focuses
on education by letting customers know how the number of alcoholic drinks
blood alcohol concentration (BAC), said Laguna Beach Sgt. George Ramos.
Officers Educating Patrons on BAC
Ramos and three other officers visited local bars and restaurants, beginning
with the Marine Room and Hennessey’s Tavern on Ocean Avenue. Before
stepping inside, Ramos received the OK from the establishments’ owners.
The officers made it clear to patrons that they were there to educate them,
not ticket them.
One patron had taken only a sip of beer at Hennessey’s when the officers
arrived. Though he said that he’d be comfortable driving, his BAC
read .04%. The legal limit in California is .08%.
“It seems high,” the patron said of his reading.
Officer Mike Lee, one of the officers testing that night, explained how
residual alcohol can stay in a person’s mouth, even following one
sip. It’s better to test 15 minutes after the person’s last
drink, he said.
He said that mouthwash can also boost a person’s BAC because it contains
alcohol. Lee said that some people get pulled over, swig mouthwash, and
it shoots their BAC reading higher than it actually is.
On Saturday evening, 26 customers had BAC levels over .08%, Ramos reported
on Sunday. Four of those individuals, including one with a 0.18% BAC told
the officers that they would be comfortable driving.
In a follow-up email Ramos told the
Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot that a person can be charged with DUI if they are on
drugs or other medications with or without alcohol, which affects their ability
to drive safely.
Those who participated in the breath testing received a $20 gift card for
Uber if a lift home was needed.
After officers visited eight restaurants, two of the officers that were
involved in the Know Your Limit operation conducted a DUI patrol and arrested
two drivers on suspicion of
DUI; those drivers had not participated in the Know Your Limit program.
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