ER doctor simulates drunk driving with beer goggles

An emergency physician and police officer demonstrated what impaired driving is like using beer goggles.

Alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions increased 50 per cent from last year, says police

Shawn Mondoux said people should be planning for a designated driver or use alternative transportation to get home after drinking, like taking a taxi. (Flora Pan/CBC)

Dodging a reindeer and snowman while driving with beer goggles proved to be more challenging than Shawn Mondoux originally thought.

He could barely see his dashboard and even though he was going at 10 km/h in a parking lot with no other moving vehicle, making those stops weren't a piece of cake.

"I don't think it's conceivable to drive while more impaired than visually impaired," said the Hamilton Health Sciences emergency physician, "That was really difficult."

We still don't seem to have a high enough compliance rate.-  Const. Jerome Stewart

Mondoux was demonstrating what it's like to drive under the influence, with the supervision of Const. Jerome Stewart from Hamilton Police Service. The entire experience was broadcast live on Facebook.

During the driving course, Mondoux had to navigate turns, dodge pylons, watch for stop signs and avoid hitting the paper snowman and reindeer.

He said it was already challenging even though he only experienced visual impairment. People with alcohol in the system would also experience delayed reaction times and a lapse in decision-making.

"It's not a stretch at all to think that folks who are operating under those conditions would result in an accident or some bad outcome for them or somebody else."

People still drinking and driving

Stewart said despite the message of "don't drink and drive" being a strong one, "people are not accepting it."

"We still don't seem to have a high enough compliance rate," he said.

Alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions have increased 50 per cent since last year, according to Stewart.

Police will be patrolling the roads more strictly during the holiday season to look for distracted and impaired drivers.

Some signs of impaired driving, Stewart explained while Mondoux was going around the parking lot, are driving speeds that are abnormally slower than flow of traffic and a vehicle that has trouble staying in the lane. Both of which Mondoux had trouble with while wearing the beer goggles.

'Full range' of injuries

Bone fractures, punctured lungs and brain injuries are examples of what people could experience in an impaired driving-related collision, said Mondoux, and some people become impaired after very small amounts of alcohol.

However, there doesn't need to be a collision for people to end up in the hospital.

Some people end up falling or sleeping on a park bench in the winter and could end up being seen by physicians in the emergency room, said Mondoux.

"Really we see a full range of things from alcohol in the emergency department, the most severe of which is drinking and driving."

Mondoux and Stewart advise people to plan ahead for events where they would consume alcohol. Getting a designated driver and finding alternative modes of transportation are two options they emphasized.

"This whole situation of impaired driving begins before you even start putting a key in the ignition," Stewart said.