American Beverage Institute To Police: No Sobriety Checkpoints, Please

Don't drink and drive this weekend.
The American Beverage Institute is calling on police to forgo holiday DUI checkpoints in favor of more effective alternatives.

According to ABI's managing director Sarah Longwell, "Sobriety checkpoints have been proven ineffective at stopping drunk drivers." Longwell goes on to say that "roadblocks target moderate drinkers instead of hard core alcohol abusers", the "root cause of today's drunk driving problem.

What is the American Beverage Institute? According to its website, the ABI is a "Washington D.C. restaurant trade association that protects the on-premise dining experience and defends the right to drink moderately and responsibly prior to driving." In a nutshell, it's an association of restaurants that want to keep America drinking ... in moderation.

For instance, the website (funded by ABI) states that most alcohol-related traffic fatalities occur when the drunk driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of about .19 percent (the legal limit is .08 percent BAC).

The website also states that "numerous studies have shown that a driver operating a vehicle while using a hands-free cell phone is more dangerous than a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent BAC. Distracted driving, especially texting while driving, is responsible for an ever-increasing proportion of traffic deaths."

In that spirit, the ABI would like the police to stop with the roadblocks. Ironically, the police might just agree on that point. We asked the City of Miami Police Department if they were planning any sobriety checkpoints for Labor Day weekend.

"Nothing that I'm aware of," said public information officer Kenia Reyes, "and I would have gotten notification by now."

But before you think the po-po is giving you permission to drink up and have a good time, the police will still be out and about. And Reyes has some sage wisdom if you want to have a happy and incident-free weekend.

"As we always say, if you drink you have three options. You can surrender your car keys, you can call a friend, or call a cab."

We asked Reyes if there's any legal gray-area where you can drink and drive. She said that because of the way alcohol works differently on everyone based on age, body weight, and other factors, that she would rather not comment except to say, "better to avoid a problem, than to later lament."

If you are drinking, AAA is offering a free, confidential Tow-and-Go service this weekend to both members and non-members. The 24-hour service is available from August 31 to September 3. Call 1-800-AAA-HELP and a tow truck will give you and your car a ride home (within 10 miles).

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Just so readers are kept totally informed, Sarah Longwell is listed as the “managing director of the American Beverage Institute.”  She is actually working for Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C. based company whose clients all have one thing in common – they don’t want anybody keeping them from making as much money as possible, no matter the consequences.  There are at least 15 “associations” housed inside company walls, with fewer than 20 staffers trading titles as heads or spokespeople.  Sarah herself is listed with various titles in at least ten of Berman’s front groups.  Some of the associations they have made up and front include ones lobbying for fewer restrictions on mercury tainted fish, smoking in public places, lowering the minimum wage, promoting high fructose corn syrup, tanning salons, and obesity.  And, of course, being pro drunk driving. 


Saying that repeat, hard core drinkers cause the majority of DUI crashes is just plain untrue.  Claiming that all these anti-DUI tactics will force people to stop having a single drink before driving are false. Her claims of patrols being more effective at saving lives than checkpoints fly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Her admonitions that MADD and other groups are actually teetotalers trying to bring back prohibition are ludicrous and unsubstantiated.  What she, and Berman and Company, and the bar owners that are behind the funding of the American Beverage Institute, are really after is keeping people buying as much booze as possible in their establishments, keeping their profits up, and figuring that enough will make it home safely to come back again for more.

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