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Orange County's 'Know Your Limit' Campaign

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 affects their 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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