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New Drinking And Driving Regulations – Home Winemakers Beware

Home winemakers have a love of tasting and enjoying their wines as well as sharing them with friends. Often, clubs will meet where wine tastings of different home made wines will occur. In most instances, home winemakers drink “responsibly” and are very careful about how much alcohol they consume before driving.

There is the old “rule of thumb” that it is safe to drink one standard alcoholic drink an hour and a person will be “safe” as far as driving is concerned. In this case, a “standard” drink of wine is about 4 oz. with an alcohol content of about 12%.

However, this rule of thumb is simply not an accurate way to know whether one is below the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. There are many factors that contribute to how fast alcohol is metabolized in the body. Even varying rates of body fat percentage can have an effect on alcohol metabolization. Alcohol can be diluted by water, but not by fat and therefore those who have a higher body fat percent will have a higher BAC than a person who has less fat and more muscle. Muscle contains more water.

In Canada, some Provinces like British Columbia and Nova Scotia have instituted lower BAC limits for driving on their respective Provincial roads. This means that many of us will have a much more difficult time in knowing if we are legally “safe” to drive. The new Provincial regulations can be draconian in the sense that you are immediately assumed guilty of an offense if a Police Officer demands a breath sample and you blow over the new lower limits.

Your driver’s license can be suspended immediately for 7 days, your vehicle can be impounded, and its up to you to pay for all the costs involved even though you haven’t actually been found guilty by a court and have had a fair trial.

This is a home winemaking blog and it’s not about politics, or inherent rights, or whether or not it is constitutional for individuals to be punished by the State before they have had the opportunity to a fair and impartial trial with the ability to mount a vigorous defense and question the evidence.

However, this is an issue that those of us who enjoy making wine and enjoy a glass of it with friends should be aware of. The new regulations are not likely to change anytime soon, and we must be more aware of how alcohol is metabolized in our bodies and what it could take to put us over the new lower provincial legal limits.

It should be noted that these Provincial regulations are not “Criminal.” The Canadian Criminal Code still provides for a legal limit of 0.08 mg alcohol per 100 ml blood. So if you are stopped and penalized for between 0.05 and 0.08 mg, they won’t mean you have a Criminal Record.

American readers will probably know that each State in the US has their own DUI laws and penalties (although the legal limit of 0.08 is standard as a BAC limit). You can get information on American State By State DUI Penalties.

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