There will be many New Year’s Eve parties tonight - and many alcoholic beverages being consumed.

Unfortunately, many impaired drivers will get behind the wheels of their cars in an attempt to continue partying or to return home.

I recently got drunk in order to put a first-person spin on the dangers of drinking and driving. I attempted to monitor my blood alcohol concentration (BAC) during the process by a variety of means.

I would like to begin this piece by thanking the Corning Police Department and officer Justin Kemp for helping me with the collection of my data. I would like to add that at no time was I ever operating a motor vehicle after my consumption of alcohol.

The Test

In order to become intoxicated, I simulated what I deemed to be a party situation. I consumed six beers and two shots of bourbon over a two-hour period. As a 6-3, 255-pound adult male, I sought to exceed the legal BAC limit to drive in New York, which is 0.08 percent.

Following a 20-minute waiting period, where no food or beverages were consumed, I tested myself with a portable breathalyzer device. I calculated estimated BAC levels via online charts and one BAC app. Finally, I was tested at the police station with the same machine that Corning Police would test potential intoxicated drivers on.

I then went another hour without food or drink to simulate someone that stopped drinking in order to “sober up” in order to drive.

Police Station

Following the two-hour consumption and 20-minute waiting periods, I was tested by the police department breathalyzer.

My result - 0.11 percent - legally drunk.

I wasn’t surprised, as I put in a bit of effort to get drunk.

One hour later, I was tested again. This time, I blew a 0.10 percent - once again, legally drunk nearly 90 minutes after my last drink.

BACtrack S35

Leading up to this test, I purchased a BACtrack S35 Breathalyzer at a local drugstore.

The cost of the machine, along with a pack of AAA batteries was $51.

Like the police breathalyzer, the BACtrack’s operating instructions require a 20-minute waiting period where no eating, drinking or smoking takes place in order to get an accurate reading.

First test - 0.12 percent - just 0.01 percent higher than the police machine.

Second test - 0.12 percent - 0.02 percent higher than the police result.

The website can be accessed with a smart phone or laptop computer.

The website asks for a person’s age, weight, gender, drinking time, glasses of water and alcoholic beverages consumed to calculate an estimated BAC.

Estimated BAC at first testing time - 0.088 percent.

Estimated BAC for second test - 0.045 percent.

The Chart

The BAC chart that I called up on my phone stopped at 240 pounds and required a good deal of math when calculating time since last drink.

Let’s face it - if you’ve been drinking, you’re probably not going to do math - but it put me at 0.12 at first testing time and 0.10 for second test. Not bad for math majors.


I was very pleased with the BACtrack S35. While it ran slightly higher than the police’s unit - it was still very accurate.

I was completely shocked by the online results from

While it was correct that I was too impaired to drive before I took my first test, it provided me with a 0.045 when I was tested at 0.10 the second time. It says online that the calculator should only be used as an approximation - that approximation could have gotten me into “a lot” of trouble had it given me the confidence to get behind the wheel of a car.

My additional hour of not drinking - which seems to be a magic number with folks seeking to sober up - did not help my cause in the eyes of the Corning Police. Hopefully this will be an eye-opener to those that use periods of non-drinking as a reason to think they are ok to drive.

The Bottom Line

Alcohol and driving do not mix - period.

If you are prepping for a New Year’s outing tonight - or any outing in the future - plan ahead.

Make sure you have a designated driver in your group.

If you do not have someone to drive you, call for a taxi. If you are just a few block away from home - feel free to walk.

Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired puts everyone at risk - don’t add to the statistics.

Please have a Happy (and safe) New Year.

Shawn Vargo is the executive editor of The Leader and can be reached at Follow on Twitter @TheLeaderVargo.