What is a wet lab?

I was recently invited to a wet lab by the Washington State Patrol. Unfortunately my schedule precluded me from going. I have been to one before and they are pretty fun, hopefully next time I get invited I can attend. To learn what a wet lab is continue reading….

A wet lab is essentially a training exercise for new law enforcement officers. They are done by the Washington State Patrol or the Seattle Police Department for example. The purpose of the wet lab is to get some volunteers together. Typically it is around 10 or so people. Those volunteers are then dosed with alcohol and the new law enforcement officers administer field sobriety tests, and administer the breath tests. The very same tests that are given during a DUI investigation and subsequent DUI arrest.

If you ever get invited to one of these training exercises I highly recommend you go. Unfortunately the general public cannot volunteer for these things. You usually have to know someone. In my case I was invited by the King County Prosecutors Office. But what makes it so cool is you actually get to drink for free, hang out with law enforcement, do the field sobriety tests, and actually see what your blood alcohol level would be.

The interesting thing to me was how quickly a volunteers alcohol level rose without them realizing it. Most people felt they were okay to drive after 3 or so drinks. But when tests their alcohol level was at or above the legal limit. If that was a real live situation they would have been arrested for a DUI and facing all the criminal consequences that come from it.

The other thing that struck me was the administration of the field sobriety tests. As a DUI Lawyer in Seattle I deal with the standardized field sobriety tests all the time. I understand how they work. How they are to be administered, and how they are to be performed. Heck I have even received training and I am qualified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests myself.

But I would say 99% of people out there have no clue on what they are. So it is interesting to watch them attempt the tests. In my opinion most people perform poorly on the tests. Not because they were impaired, but due to the instruction, the lengthy directions, or some other outside factor that contributed to the performance. But again in a real life situation none of that really matters and all law enforcement is going to look at is the end result and everybody I saw perform the test would have been arrested.

Like I said if you get an opportunity to do a wet lab they are very cool. The only downside is you cannot leave until your blood alcohol level is 0.00%. So the more you drink and the more fun you have the longer you will be there. And unfortunately you cannot have someone pick up up. Or at least that was the rule in Seattle last time I did one.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a law firm focusing on DUI Defense in the greater Seattle Bellevue area. Mr. Leyba has been ranked a rising star in the field of DUI Defense by several publications, and is currently rated as a Top DUI Lawyer by Avvo.