If you love craft beer – which is tastier and usually stronger than the mass-produced domestic swill that lines most liquor store shelves – you’ve probably heard about the effort to lower the national standard for drunk-driving to .05 percent blood-alcohol content.
It goes without saying that the brewing industry is concerned, and it seems brewers have a right to be. You may recall the standard in Colorado and most other states used to be .10 percent, but the federal government coerced states into lowering the legal limit to drive to .08 percent.
In Colorado, you can be cited on suspicion of driving while ability impaired at .05 percent, and in fact most DUI arrests are pleaded down to a DWAI conviction.
For the record, let me say drinking and driving is dangerous. If you plan to enjoy several beers or drinks, have a designated driver, walk or call a cab. But it’s the social drinkers who would be targeted under a .05 percent standard. A 160-pound man could be committing a crime by driving after just two craft beers. A 120-pound woman would be in violation after one drink.
What that essentially says to the public is you shouldn’t have ANY drinks and drive. Not one. That means neighborhood brew pubs, which tend to be spread out around town, without public transportation, could lose customers afraid of being arrested for enjoying a couple beers.
For brew pubs that serve food, it could mean less business, as people may decide having a beer with dinner just isn’t worth the risk.
Yes, 100 countries have adopted the .05 standard. I’d also bet that many of those 100 countries have better public transportation than the U.S. and especially Colorado.
Tougher drunken-driving laws have cut the number of DUI-related by half in the last 30 years. While any death from drinking and driving is a tragedy, let’s face it, some people are going to drive drunk anyway.
All that lowering the standard to .05 percent would accomplish would be to punish the light drinkers. And we shouldn’t have to be afraid to have a beer with dinner.