Getting Drunk with Police: Volunteer Drinkers Help with DUI Training

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RENO, NV - How would you like to do your civic duty by getting drunk?

For years, police in northern Nevada have asked for volunteer drinkers to come in and help with DUI training. When they're good and liquored up, they release them to new recruits for DUI training.

"It's very important that we get the volunteers in, actually get them intoxicated so the students can see what we've been teaching them and actually see the clues in the eyes," said Deputy Brian Weber of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.

In this police academy program, these volunteers show up and drink for a couple hours. Police take measurements of their weight and height, and based on those numbers, each volunteer is given a limit of how much they can drink.

Halfway through the boozing, the police stop the drinkers to test the amount of alcohol in their system with a breathalzyer test. The goal is to get them anywhere from a .1 to a .12.

After that, they send them into the training area, where volunteers are put through a simulation. The rookies are tested in a drunk driving scenario where they must examine the volunteers and conduct DUI tests. They are examined on how well they conduct the balance test, the walk and turn test, and the eye test.

Volunteers do not drive or operate a car; instead, the simulation starts with them sitting in the driver's seat, as if they've just been pulled over.

"The eye test is putting our finger in front of their face and doing a prescribed number of passes, looking for the involuntary jerking of the eyes which is something that an intoxicated person can't control," said Deputy Weber.

But while volunteers are tossing back tequila, they're also discovering their own tolerance.

"we ask them each time, at a certain point, if they feel like they would drive, and more often than not, at this point, they say, yes they would drive and they're above a .08 at that point," said Deputy Weber.

As for the booze, taxpayers can rest easy.

"All the alcohol is seized from people who do not pay their taxes on the alcohol, and the Department of Taxation gives the local academies an opportunity to get that alcohol from them," said Staff Officer Rick Pillon of the Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy. "So it is donated by the Department. of Taxation."

So if you've got a free night, drink a few from bartenders with badges. you'll be giving back to society.

The next training is expected to be in April 2014. Contact the Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy if you would like to be a volunteer drinker. The Academy's main line is (775) 789-5415.