CHEYENNE — A deputy Laramie County prosecutor drank three double Coke-and-Jack cocktails in 90 minutes on Monday.
Each drink contained three ounces of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
By Monday afternoon, T.J. Forwood told authorities he felt “a little bit tipsy.”
Forwood added that he was confident he would be in good shape for work in the office Tuesday morning.
Forwood was among the volunteers who partook in a controlled alcohol “wet lab” conducted by the Cheyenne Police Department.
The experiment was designed to show just how quickly impaired those who imbibe become, as local and state authorities and lawmakers work to decrease the number of drunken-driving and other alcohol-related arrests.
In some drunken-driving cases, blood-alcohol level data can be deceiving.
Forwood, for example, registered .02 percent on his first breathalyzer test Monday, and .01 percent on his second.
Both tests were less than the .08 percent legal limit for impaired driving in Wyoming.
Yet the prosecutor failed two of three field sobriety tests.
Forwood, a runner, is in good shape physically. Athletes often test lower than expected in a breathalyzer reading, Forwood and police officers said.
Forwood’s own test results, he said, reinforced his two-beer rule — no driving after drinking more than two beers. Consuming more than that can result in a driver flunking a sobriety test.
Officers pointed out what they were looking for in roadside sobriety tests during demonstrations with the volunteers.
The eye test is for nystagmus, or a jerking eyeball that can’t smoothly follow a finger or pen held by a police officer.
Jerking movements in the eye before the gaze reaches a 45-degree angle are a key sign of a possible higher-than-normal blood-alcohol content level, Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak said.
The nystagmus test also works to detect other substances that depress the central nervous system. It doesn’t work for marijuana users because the drug isn’t a depressant. The clue in those case is dilated pupils, Kozak said.
The other two standard field sobriety tests are toe-to-toe walking and turning, and standing on one leg.
The drivers are told to keep their hands at their sides during the walking test. Drivers who are impaired often will hold out their hands to balance themselves, Kozak said.
But the eye test is considered the most important tool in assessing a driver’s blood-alcohol level, according to published reports.
In Wyoming, the average blood-alcohol content for drivers arrested for driving under the influence in 2012 was 0.156 percent, according to a report from the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police.
The average reported blood-alcohol content for people arrested for public intoxication was 0.267 percent the same year.
Alcohol was involved in more than 72 percent of all custodial arrests. Methamphetamine was involved in 2.4 percent and other drugs composed 9.52 percent.
“The level of alcohol involvement in 118,194 reported arrests during the last eight years is statistical evidence that alcohol is, and continues to be, the drug that has the greatest impact on crime in Wyoming,” the report said.