MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you think a night of sleep can sober you up enough for a drive home, you might be surprised. A group of volunteers proved otherwise in a WMBF News Investigation.
Mike was one of five volunteers who says he drank six to eight drinks in a three hour time span, slept for six hours, and had his blood alcohol content levels tested when he woke.
It's Mike's BAC levels after he awoke that may surprise you. According to investigators, Mike blew a .156 just after he stopped drinking, and woke up with a .069 reading.
Despite barely being below the .08 legal limit, Mike failed a field sobriety test and would have been charged with driving under the influence.
"I'm not surprised at how impaired they were, but It's concerning that they didn't realize that they'd still be impaired the morning after," said Myrtle Beach Traffic Investigator Jim Allen, after watching our story. "Some people may actually need more than six or seven hours to sober up, depending on a number of factors."
Allen says even if someone blows a .03, they could still be impaired and run a risk of being handcuffed by police.
"It's not our job to prove a certain BAC," he commented. "We are looking for impairment. We want to keep these roads safe, and 17,000 DUIs in South Carolina last year is simply too many."
Our investigation was a learning lesson for the volunteers and local authorities hope it's a learning lesson for everyone else too.
"This really surprised me," said Bill, a second volunteer in the investigation. "I normally would be up this early after a night of drinking and I could be arrested."
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "a 'standard' drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of 'pure' alcohol."
That means a can of beer, 5 oz. of table wine, 3-4 oz. of fortified wine, 2-3 oz. of liqueur, 1.5 oz. brandy, or a shot of hard liquor (80 proof).
Tools from the NIAAA's Rethinking Drinking campaign: