VIRGINIA BEACH -- A police officer knocks on your door and asks you to take a breathalyzer test. What would you do?
13News Now and Virginia Beach police conducted a test to sound the alarm about a problem involved with drunk driving police say many people don't think about but should: are you safe to drive the next morning after a night out consuming alcohol?
13News Now followed a viewer named Josh, who consented to our test. At the end of his night drinking, Virginia Beach police tested his blood alcohol content. It was a .188 -- way above Virginia's legal limit of .08 to drive. You can get arrested at a .05.
The next morning, at 8:45am, police showed up at Josh's house to give him another breathalyzer test. The results -- .029 -- under the legal limit to drive in Virginia, but still enough alcohol to impair his judgment.
"They don't have the significant impairment they had the night before, but they're still impaired so they're not as cautious as they were the night before," said Sgt. Scott Wichtendahl of the Virginia Beach Police Department. "They dint even think about it."
Josh admitted to the sergeant he didn't think twice about getting up the morning after an intoxicating night out and getting behind the wheel the next morning. "There have been times when I should've gotten up and not gone to work and I've still gone to work knowing that I should've been pulled over," said Josh.
"Only thing it does is make a clean drunk and wide awake drunk," said Sgt. Wichtendahl.
Tess Demorest is now wide awake to this issue. A drunk driver hit and killed her fiance when he was on his way to work in Virginia Beach one morning at 7am. She says the person who hit him had so much alcohol still in her system, she was nearly 3 times the legal limit.
"I feel like someone stole him away from me." Demorest said. "You don't expect that to happen on someone's way to work, that they're hit by a drunk driver."
The local chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) tries to educate the public about the growing dangers of lingering alcohol levels. They use a device called the "Intoxiclock" to speak with members of the Navy and other community groups. "This thing will actually calculate for them the drink that they're drinking, takes into consideration their weight are you male or female and then it shows you what you're BAC (blood alcohol content) will be after these drinks, said MADD's Bob Walsh.
"They're stunned. They can't believe, oh my gosh look at this and they realize the facts, how long it takes alcohol to leave your body," he said.
According to "Alcohol: Problems and Solutions", 10% of the alcohol in your system leaves through the breath, perspiration and urine. Metabolism breaks down the rest. Alcohol is metabolized at the rate of .015 of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) every hour.
With that as your guide, a person with a very high BAC of .15 will have no measurable alcohol in his/her bloodstream after ten hours. A .10 BAC level would be metabolized in over 6 hours.
Arrest records show the message is not getting through.
In 2012 and 2013, Hampton Roads police have made 814 DUI arrests between 5 and 10am: 228 in Chesapeake. 192 in Newport News. 155 in Virginia Beach. 130 in Hampton. 99 in Suffolk. 10 in Portsmouth. The numbers for Norfolk were not available at the filing of this report. We're told there was a problem with the computer technology the Norfolk Police Department uses to get that information.
Bob and Kay Walsh lost their daughter to a drunk driver in an accident in Virginia Beach. They work with Sergeant Wichtendahl to try to stop more drunk driving tragedies on the roads day or night and now, in the early morning.
"We want people to get educated," Sgt Wichtendahl said. "We don't want to arrest people........success for us would be having zero alcohol-related fatalities. The reality is -- we'll never have that."