What if we asked you to come have a drink at the Washington State Patrol Academy? Yep, you read that right…and guess what? That’s exactly what we did.

Last month, we asked volunteers to come have an alcoholic beverage at our Training Academy in Shelton. The reason: So cadets could learn how to detect and process impaired drivers. It’s called the “wet lab,” and it takes place every Trooper Basic class.

Lieutenant Rob Sharpe of the Washington State Patrol’s Impaired Driving Unit explains one of the biggest parts of the cadets’ training is to undergo a “controlled drinking section” or “wet lab.” Volunteers come in for a few hours, drink a little bit, all while certified trainers monitor their alcohol intake and BAC. Once the volunteers are “liquored up,” cadets will come in and administer a standardized field sobriety test.

Lieutenant Sharpe explains:

Once the training is over, the cadets head back to the classroom and the volunteers get a safe ride home from a friend.

While drinking at a law enforcement facility may seem silly, impaired driving is not. Every year, law enforcement sees an increase in vehicle-related deaths during the holiday months. For example, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 40 people lose their lives each December from vehicle collisions. It’s important that we teach cadets early on how to detect and take impaired drivers off the road. But it’s equally as important that drivers understand the extreme and grim consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Take responsibility. Never drive impaired and stop loved ones from driving if they are not safe to do so. Help us get everyone home safe.