Volunteers drink to help recruits spot buzzed drivers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Volunteers drink to help Sheriff's Dept. recruits spot buzzed drivers

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Sheriff's recruits spent Saturday training to spot buzzed drivers.

In the past three weeks, there have been three deadly crashes in Shelby County where alcohol may have been a factor.

When a person goes from drinking to driving, law enforcement officers are the only line of defense to get drunk and buzzed drivers off the road before it's too late.

To learn just what to look for, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department's latest recruits tested brave volunteers who spent less than two hours drinking in a controlled environment Saturday.

The first test was an eye test.  Recruits were trained to spot the difference between a person who has not had anything to drink and a person who has.

"I was trying real hard to cover up my mistakes," said volunteer Brandon Coats.

The recruits also learned that not every case is so easy.

"At a .072, he had to have shown some signs," said the instructor.

The goal of the class was not to get fooled.

"Why do we as DUI officers give a test?" asked the instructor.  "It's either to prove or disprove their guilt.  If they're not guilty, they have no problem with taking it."

"Anytime you're drinking, you should not get behind the wheel," said Sgt. Michael Pope.

Coats spoke with Action News 5 while still with a .12 blood-alcohol level.

"I have a very slow reaction time right now," he said.  "Not in my right state of mind."

Coats had a word of warning for those who think they would be able to cover up how much they had been drinking.

"I thought it would be easier than what I actually went through right now," said Coats.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department has a zero tolerance for drinking and driving.  If you show signs, you will be arrested and tested.

The only foolproof way to not get arrested is to have a designated driver after drinking.

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