It might have been an odd sight for some - people volunteering to submit to a breathalyzer test with police outside a bar - but that's what at least 70 people did outside bars in the Waldo neighborhood Friday night.
"A lot of people do not realize how little it takes," Sgt. Ron Podraza said.
Podraza was one of the cops offering the test under a program called Know Your Limits. They had six mobile Breathalyzers and invited the public to learn what their blood alcohol content was.
"Twenty-five percent of our arrests at our checkpoints are females now," Podraza said. "Females drink less, but they get buzzed more and they don't understand that. The men, they just keep going to the point where, by the time it finally hits them, they're already in their car."
The idea of the program is to teach through experience, but an experience that won't land someone in jail or, even worse, kill someone.
Breanne Coleman was in the area when police arrived at 8 p.m. and expressed support for the idea.
"I think absolutely people do not know," Coleman said. "They go out for a couple drinks with friends for happy hour and then they drive their car home, and they don't know that two drinks puts them over the limit."
Know Your Limits started in 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ. It's the first time police have tried it in the Kansas City metro.
"The point is to let people know what their limits are by voluntarily blowing into the tubes with no repercussions," Capt. Bob Zimmerman said. "Some people think they can handle liquor better than they actually can."
Mark Gromowsky thought it would be fun to try.
"I think I will be right on the border," he said.
He blew slightly more than .05 and high fived his friends for coming in under the legal limit of .08. What he then learned is that, with the addition of any physical signs of impairment, anything over .05 is enough for a municipal-level DUI ticket.
Another man, taller and heavier, who was already planning to walk home, came in at .22, almost four times the legal limit. He had slurred speech, but was not stumbling, just another example that everyone responds differently.
As part of the program, officers also come equipped with a flier that provides charts on metabolism rates and local cab company contacts. There's even a chart on average cab rates, which are far cheaper than the alternative for someone over the limit.
What they did not do was track those who took the test.
"We are not following anybody," Podraza said in response to the folks who were suspicious of entrapment. "We are not writing anything down. Names, numbers, nothing."
The program, which ran from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. Friday in the Waldo bar district near 75th and Wornall, had 70 people participating as of 10 p.m.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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