A recently passed state law could see a rise in the number of drunk driving arrests in Birmingham and elsewhere in Alabama. Driving under the influence of alcohol, or DUI, offenses might pop now that legislation signed into law last Friday has increased the limit on alcohol content in beer from six percent to 13.9 percent.
Governor Bob Riley put the new law on the books May 22, making specialty and imported beers legal for purchase in Alabama. Previously, this state had the nation's lowest alcohol limit on beer. Passage of this new law raises the question of whether drunk driving arrests will increase. Police seem to think so, which could foreshadow an increase in the amount of enforcement during the summer months and into the future.
Don't be caught off guard by the effects of high alcohol content beer says the law enforcement community. As one officer on the Huntsville Police Department's DUI task force was quoted, “With the higher alcohol content, almost twice the old level of alcohol in those beverages, they're going to get drunk twice as fast.” Sounds like the cops may be gearing up for more DUI stops.
As a Birmingham DUI defense lawyer, I have seen what happens with overzealous traffic enforcement techniques, such as DUI roadblocks. Could this new law possibly be the beginning of a trend toward increased drunk driving patrols on Alabama roads? Maybe, maybe not. There is the argument that people will not be getting more drunk or drunk quicker than usual on gourmet beers.
As one bar owner commented, specialty beers are also full-bodied beverages and therefore more filling to begin with. “(Patrons) are just not going to drink as many. It's not because of the alcohol, but because the gourmet beers are heavily-bodied beers,” said Connell Allen, who owns a tavern in Huntsville.
The new beer bill was pushed by a grassroots group called “Free the Hops.” Daniel Roberts, a Huntsville resident and member of the group told reporters that thought the bill's passage was a little surprising. “We knew it was going to happen. We kind of expected it to happen. It was kind of like a big reaction as in wow, the five years we put into it, actually did pay off,” said Daniel Roberts.
Only time will tell whether this new law actually causes a rise in drunk driving. But no matter what, if you are arrested or issued a summons for DUI, you should make certain that you contact a qualified attorney skilled in drunk driving defense to handle your case.
Stronger Beer Sales Allowed In Alabama, WHNT.com, May 22, 2009