A Facebook friend who likes to argue for argument’s sake recently posted this:
GK: Having a debate, let me know your thoughts or if you know factually. My argument: Unless your state has an open container law, it is not illegal to drink alcohol while driving unless your BAC (blood alcohol content) is also over the limit.
His argument: Drinking alcohol while driving is illegal no matter what. My argument is based on what I can find online regarding DUI laws being based on BAC and knowledge that some states don’t have an open container prohibition, so how can they say an open container of beer that you are sipping from is illegal?
And the friends of my friend commented as follows:
SW: Are we talking in the state of Wis.? Because I have received an open intoxicants ticket as a PASSENGER. So in this state, an open container of alcohol in a car is, in fact, very illegal. The driver in my ticket case also got an open intoxicant ticket.
One helpful participant posted a link to this blog …
Can Passengers Drink Alcohol In a Car? – FindLaw
…which stated, in part:
“Seven states currently do not have open container laws, including Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, and Connecticut, even if local ordinances in some of those states do in fact prohibit open containers of alcohol. … Mississippi is the most permissive, even allowing drivers to drink as long as they remain under the legal BAC limit.”
This prompted the following moratorium on relocating to Mississippi:
KO: Ok. Not worth moving to Mississippi for.
MC: In many states “DUI” or “DWI” or whatever includes drinking while you are driving. The BAC is simply another way to get proof.
EF: I say it doesn’t matter. There are places where drinking should not happen, and your car is one of them.
TW: I don’t know about that, but I was advised by a lawyer once that if you’re driving drunk and a cop is trying to pull you over, if you are near a bar, you can pull over and run inside the bar and order a drink and the cop cannot remove you from the bar to arrest you for drunk driving.
KO: BTW, this is a thing I lament whenever I drive to and from my folks’ house. I always wonder what the big difference is between having a beer before I leave their house and having a beer while I’m driving. This is not something that I practice, but some days I really just want to have a beer on my way home from work.
I could keep quiet no longer:
LH: I’m with EF on this. If you can’t wait to get where you’re going before knocking one back, I think there’s an 800 number for you. I’m commandeering this whole post for my Wheels column.
KO and SK apparently do not read the Pasadena Weekly, nor do they know what a Wheels column is, and so, they continued …
KO: It takes 30 minutes after drinking to measure your BAC. So what I’m wondering is if it is actually safer to drink a beer on a 30 minute drive or to drink a beer and then wait 30 minutes to drive home? And I’m very much playing the devil’s advocate on this but I am very curious as to what the differences between drinking while driving or drinking and then driving.
SK: You can also require the cops do a BLOOD alcohol test, refusing a breathalyzer.
These are actual Facebook posts. The names have been obscured to protect the innocent, the guilty and the ridiculous. I could do nothing to shield the fair state of Mississippi, whose unofficial state motto may well be “Smoke em if you got em.”
I am almost without words. It is difficult to imagine such a debate taking place in this post-MADD world, however theoretical it may be. Our driving culture is still made up of people who strive to evade DUIs by “running into a bar and ordering a drink,” or refusing a breathalyzer in favor of a BLOOD alcohol test. It is this cultural mentality that keeps the body count at a pretty constant rate of too-damn-many.
I know my girlfriend just wanted to win an argument with her boyfriend, but there needs to come a day when this kind of conversation is as politically incorrect and taboo as some others I could mention — except that I can’t — because they are taboo and not PC.