Loved Ones Of Drunk Driving Victim Make Emotional Plea, A Ride-Along With Officers On Patrol And The Science Of The Field Sobriety Test

7:15 AM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- With New Years just days away, you'll likely be celebrating this weekend, and police want to warn you not to get behind the wheel if you have been drinking.

Delia Goncalves got a rare look at what police are looking for and the science behind the field sobriety test.  

We also busted some popular drinking myths to help keep your alcohol intake under control. Drinking on an empty stomach will not get you more drunk, and police say those drinking water in between each cocktail will only make your hangover worse the next day.

U.S. Park Police Sergeant Adam Zeilinski is our myth breaker. He's part of a specialized traffic unit made up of a small group of highly trained officers. The Drug Recognition Experts, or DRE's, will be on patrol this weekend and are on a mission to keep your party off the road. As far as the myth about drinking on an empty stomach, Sgt. Zeilinski says drinking and eating at the same time is actually worse.

"Twenty percent of alcohol gets absorbed into stomach lining and directly in blood stream. Then as you eat and your food digests, it causes your pyloric sphincter to relax, which then allows the alcohol and the food to go down into the large and small intestines...It's like opening the flood gate," said Sgt. Zeilinski.

Sgt. Zielinski and his team took us through the science of the field sobriety test and on a ride-along. This was rare, unlimited access. Park police do not invite media along often but in the video you see just how widespread the problem of drinking and driving is on our local roads. The sergeant told us in one weekend he alone arrested five drunk drivers in two days.

Park police are so passionate about this issue because one of their own was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago. Officer Hakim Farthing was just 28 years old, an Army veteran who was on the force just two years. While investigating a deadly crash on the Baltimore Washington Parkway near the New York Avenue ramp, 20-year-old Jovada Welch who was drunk herself, drove over cones and flares and killed Farthing instantly. Welch was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail.

Friday morning, we talked to Officer Farthing's sister Eshe and co-worker Lieutenant Russ Fennelly who was there the night Farthing was killed. Their emotional interview and plea to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

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