JRCS: Alcohol, awareness flow at Sobriety Challenge

SONOMA, Calif. (December 14, 2000) - The alcohol was definitely flowing Thursday at Sears Point Raceway, and so was awareness about driving sobriety over the holidays. Twenty people, including John Lasseter, Pixar's Academy Award...

SONOMA, Calif. (December 14, 2000) - The alcohol was definitely flowing Thursday at Sears Point Raceway, and so was awareness about driving sobriety over the holidays.

Twenty people, including John Lasseter, Pixar's Academy Award winning director best known for his work on "Toy Story," "Toy Story II" and "A Bug's Life" participated in the "Holiday Sobriety Challenge."

The event is a controlled wine and beer tasting designed to graphically illustrate how alcohol consumption affects driving performance. Sears Point Raceway, the California Highway Patrol and the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School hosted the event.

In addition to Lasseter, the event also featured Johannes Van Overbeek, who drives for BMW Team PTG on the American Le Man Series circuit, as well as Kevin Buckler, who also competes in the ALMS piloting a Porsche for The Racer's Group. Other participants included two chefs, a pastor, a judge and various other working professionals.

Testers were given anywhere from two-to-three glasses of wine or beer donated by Andretti Winery and Mount St. Helena Brewery before submitting to a field of sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer analysis administered by the CHP. Once it was determined participants were ready, they were asked to get behind the wheel of an automobile and drive through a pre-determined course at the raceway. All drivers were accompanied by race car instructors from the Russell Racing School.

Nineteen of the 20 drivers failed the test, including Lasseter, Van Overbeek and Buckler.

"How often are going to get an invitation by the CHP to drink and drive?" quipped Lasseter. "But this was a great program. It certainly raised my awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving. Get a designated driver if you're going to drink, that's what I say."

Said Van Overbeek: "This test certainly raised my awareness to the fact that drinking can impair you almost at any level."

Participants were not allowed to take part unless they came with a designated driver who could take them home.

"People just need to realize that if they plan on drinking they have to have a designated driver take them home," said CHP officer Mark Bunger. "This was a pretty good learning experience for the people who came out here today."

The program helped kick-off National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention month, which features a series of local events throughout the country that will attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.

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