Students learn firsthand what it’s like to drive drunk

Levi Scarberry was more focused than usual as he drove “drunk” on campus.

The 18-year-old State College of Florida student has never actually been drunk. Rather, he donned “beer goggles” and tested his motor skills during Alcohol Awareness Day at the Bradenton and Venice campuses Tuesday.

“I probably won’t ever drink and drive because that was awful,” Scarberry said.

The event, sponsored by the SCF Department of Public Safety and Student Life with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies on hand to provide more education, let SCF students stumble while trying to walk heel-to-toe, write, throw a ball and swerve through a course on golf carts, all while wearing goggles that are specially designed to show what it’s like with low, moderate and high levels of alcohol in your blood.

Last year, Manatee County handed out 876 citations for driving under the influence and reported 3,906 total injuries in DUI-related crashes and 54 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Manatee is on the lower end of statistics when compared to counties around the state, like Miami-Dade or Hillsborough. While SCF’s manager of public safety Shawn Patten doesn’t think younger drivers are necessarily more prone to drink and drive, education is key.

“It’s certainly an opportunity to teach them at an early age about drinking and driving and obviously to keep our community safe as a whole,” Patten said, hoping that everyone on campus participates to learn about the effects of alcohol abuse.

The legal blood-alcohol content limit is 0.08 percent, but if drivers shows that they’re impaired with a lower 0.05 BAC, they can still be charged with driving under the influence, said Manatee sheriff’s deputy Andrew Vanover.

Drivers who are pulled over must complete walk-the-line, eye and one-leg stand tests before being tested with a breathalyzer, Vanover said. Even if a pulled-over driver is under the legal limit and passes the tests, deputies will ask drivers to find a safe ride home.

Scarberry thought the event was a great idea.

“It’s pretty stupid to do motor skills while intoxicated,” he said.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse