CDOT Punks Unsuspecting Public in latest DUI Awareness Campaign

August 23, 2016 - Traffic Safety - STATEWIDE — On average, 77 people are arrested for DUI in Colorado every day.

 To bring awareness to the fact that even small amounts of alcohol can land you a DUI, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted a social experiment under the guise of a brewery tour company.

Paid actors hired by CDOT escorted unsuspecting brewery tour participants to three breweries in Denver over the course of three hours.  The tour’s van driver pretended to consume alcohol at each stop along the tour. As he mingled with brewery tour goers not one of the participants seemed concerned that he was drinking and driving. In the end, it was revealed that the driver was drinking non-alcoholic beer.

To view the video:

The tour guide, who was drinking alcoholic beer, recorded the following BAC levels. Because he was similar in size and weight to the driver, it is likely the driver would have been at the same level of impairment had he been drinking alcoholic beer:

    Tour guide BAC after one 16oz craft beer = 0.05 (Driving While Ability Impaired)

    Tour guide BAC after two 16oz craft beers = 0.08 (Driving Under the Influence)

    Tour guide BAC after three 16oz craft beers = 0.10 (Driving Under the Influence)

“The experiment confirmed for us that many adults underestimate the dangers associated with driving after having a few drinks,” explains Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager of Traffic Safety. “The participants never expressed concern that their driver was drinking and driving.”

70 percent of males age 21-35 believe they are safe to drive after one to two drinks, according to a 2015 CDOT survey. When in reality, after two drinks a person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) can hit 0.08 percent, which is over the legal limit. Moreover, in Colorado the Drinking While Ability Impaired (DWAI) law starts at 0.05 percent BAC. 

One third of traffic fatalities in Colorado are alcohol related.

“This false sense of security that you can have two or three drinks and be fine needs to be challenged,” says Cole. “It’s an illusion that continues to put Coloradans in danger. You are 400% more likely to crash when impaired.” 

The message was not lost on the participants of the tour, who were admittedly surprised when the true purpose of the tour was revealed:

I obviously should’ve said something […] like ‘why is our driver drinking?!’ – Participant 1

This is how I feel when I get behind the wheel, when I’m like, ‘I’m alright.’ I don’t care if something happens to me. But if I drive somewhere and I kill somebody… – Participant 2

If this saves one life, then I am so happy to be a part of it. – Participant 3

As part of a statewide awareness campaign, CDOT is rolling out the results of this experiment on social media to highlight the fact that even a few drinks can be dangerous, and urging Coloradans to consider the consequences of driving impaired. “Ultimately we hope people will take responsibility for their actions and choose to drink, and not drive,” adds Cole.