Near-beer bust

Nonalcoholic drinking and driving

Hey Matt!

I’m an alcoholic and I’ve recently cut down my consumption to the point that I’m not hammered all day every day. Well, I’ve converted to nonalcoholic beer for the daytime — ’cause I love beer — but I noticed that they have a 0.5% ABV. That means it would roughly take ten N.A. to equal 1 regular beer. Well, my question is, can I just be driving around in my car drinking N.A. all day and if so would the cops bust me at some point? Could I get a D.U.I?

— Waitin’ till dark to drink real beer

I’d say don’t do it. Here’s why: If a cop sees you cruising around, sipping from a brown bottle with a long neck, he might want to pull you over just to see what’s going on. The explanation, “Oh, no, it’s nonalcoholic beer!” might not explain you out of trouble, either, since many uncreative boozers have tried pouring out O’Doul’s and replacing it with legit beer.

What a great way to drink on the sly...said nobody, ever!

Anyway, the cop is going to think that’s what’s up, and he’ll probably want to give you a breathalyzer test. You’ll pass it because it’s basically impossible to drink enough 0.5% beer to get intoxicated. Your body can process alcohol faster than you can take it in at that concentration, not to mention the fact that ten N.A. beers is close to a gallon of fluid, which is hard to drink in the first place without rupturing like an overfilled water balloon. You couldn’t be cited for violating an “open container” law, either, since California abides by federal regulations that define an “alcoholic beverage” as having “not less than one half of one percent alcohol by volume.” Well, you could be cited since the cops can write you a ticket for anything, but you would be very likely to get out of it in court. When all is said and done, you’re stuck sitting on the side of the road with an irritated cop who probably feels like you’re flaunting the law in front of him. Cops don’t like that. Doing stuff that cops don’t like is generally a Bad Idea. And, you have to ask yourself, is near-beer worth all that hassle?

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So many people are killed in accident every year for driving after drinking. but why still so many people keep drinking before driving.


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