OHP Training Academy Uses Impaired Subjects In Controlled-Environment To Train Troopers

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It looks like a typical cocktail party.

But look again and you will see that Francheska Welsh just thanked an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who served alcohol to volunteer drinkers.

It happened Wednesday for two hours in a controlled environment at the academy.

The purpose is to help a mix of recruits from several central Ohio law enforcement agencies learn how to recognize what alcohol consumption can do to a driver.

“There's a misconception among the public that buzzed driving isn't drunk driving, and that's a sad reality - impairment starts at that point,” said Sgt. David Brown, OHP Course Director.

The participants don’t drink all-day long. Instructors want their recruits to have confidence in their abilities, so the volunteers maintain their BAC at .08 and test it with portable breath testers.

“I'm just going to have you take a deep breath same as the first time slow and steady - almost there almost there, almost,” said one trainee.

Welsh blew a.08 after an hour of drinking. Most of the others were under the limit and continued drinking. Then it was time to test the recruits’ ability to detect the volunteers’ impairment.

“Make sure you go over all the verbiage with them, make sure they don't have eyeglasses things like that,” explained Brown.

Trainees first used the horizontal gaze technique to detect involuntary jerking of the eyes and made volunteers walk and turn. While all exhibited intoxicated behavior, some performed better than others.

Welsh laughed when she stumbled but says had she not been drinking, she wouldn't have chuckled - but her behavior is the reason why she volunteered to not only help these recruits, but also show the community just how quickly motor skills can be compromised.

“I feel it's important to keep people safe, and you hear about it all the time people who are injured by intoxicated drivers, you know there are cabs everywhere in this city call a cab! It's not that difficult"