On a Friday night, Happy Hour at Barney’s Beanery in Old Town Pasadena is coming to an end.
The scene is lively.
There’s music, football on the big screens, hot wings, cold beer and complimentary breathalyzer tests being performed by the Pasadena Police Department.
“Do you know your limit?” Police Officer Alonzo Gonzalez asks with a smile as he zig zags his way through the bar asking patrons if they’d like to find out if they could get behind the wheel – given what they’ve had to drink.
Many were curious, stating they had only had a couple of beers, a shot of tequila or a cocktail. But some admitted they had enjoyed plenty of the Happy Hour specials.
The crowd clapped as Karl Ogormam, 33, volunteered to take a breathalyzer test. He had six beers, but his car was at home and he had taken a share ride back to Old Town Pasadena.
“Go, go, go, go, go” his friends clapped as he breathed into the device until it beeped and Officer. Gonzalez held it up in the air for everyone at the table to see.
“.05!” he announced to the table and everyone cheered.
“Guess I can have one more,” Ogormam said.
This friendly exchange between Pasadena Police Department and the bar patrons is the goal behind the “Know your Limit” program, which hopes to inform the public of how little it takes to reach the legal blood alcohol content (BAC.)
On September 20th, Pasadena police officers headed into Old Town asking Friday night patrons if they thought they could guess their BAC.
Many were surprised to find out how close they were to the BAC after the drinks they had.
“This is an educational experience that we do for people in a casual environment” said Traffic Section Lieutenant Mark Goodman. “We need people to understand the effects of alcohol so they can make smart decisions about how they get home after a night of drinking.”
The “Know Your Limit” program is intended to inform the public of how little it takes to reach the legal BAC limit, which is .08% in all states except Utah, where the BAC is .05%. A person’s height, weight, food intake, drug and/or medication use, and how much they drink over a time period are all factors that affect BAC. Funding for this DUI operation and “Know Your Limit” program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Police officer Zachary Sprague went table to table asking guests if they wanted to find out their BAC level. Many said yes, others were nervous –but interested and some were a solid no.
Either way, Sprague and Gonzalez made sure to keep their exchanges fun and to put the focus on education. They explained how alcohol metabolizes, how it varies person to person and how at the end of the day the best choice is always to get a ride home from someone who hasn’t been drinking.
“People always think they know what their limit is, but do they?” Gonzalez said.