Oregon Magazine

Decanting with Delkin
New Oregon DUII Regs
Tough, but Worse Abroad

(Second in series authored by Ormag Editor Fred Delkin after his
arrest & conviction on DUII charges in May)

Oregon's statutory effort to toughen regulations on alcohol and drug-impaired driving deserves every driver's attention and abstention. However, it pales in comparison to laws enforced in other nations. This caught our attention back in 1960 on a business trip to Scandinavia . Intending to rent a car at the Stockholm airport, we were handed a pamphlet by a rental attendant that warned of the penalties for any driver accosted by the police for drinking: loss of license for a year on first offense (for life on second arrest), car impoundment, overnight jailing, equivalent of $1,000 fine... these strictures immediately forced our reliance on public
China has become the hottest personal car market on earth and now has driving laws to match.
We recently visited my son who resides in Shanghai and a story in the English language edition
of Shanghai Daily gave a convincing example of why my offspring relies solely on public
transport: Shanghai native Xu Huaxing, 36, was cited under driving strictures just enacted this
spring,,.running his car off the road, Huaxing was fined U.S. $300 and 3 months in jail for his
first drinking-while-driving arrest.
A quick review of other nations' efforts to abort substance-impaired driving shows that in
Australia, all daily newspapers run a box headlined "Drunk and in Jail" listing the previous days'
offending drivers, even on first arrest. In the Republic of South Africa, first offenders face no
less than 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine! Turkey gives any impaired driver a ride 20 miles
beyond where the arrest takes place and is forced to walk back to the infraction site. We've
visited Germany several times on both business and pleasure and acquaintances avoid driving if
they've consumed more than a pair of drinks, whether beer, schnapps or wine.
Concerning amounts of alcohol consumed, one drink of alcohol has many definitions, not so
dependent upon type of booze, but the quantity held in the glass. For instance, a 'shot' of 'hard'
alcohol is a single ounce, with 27 ounces in a fifth of liquor. Contrary to an image of beer as a
less potent beverage, a 12 oz. bottle or can of 4.5 % beer exceeds the alcohol content of an ounce
of 80 proof liquor. A six-pack of 5% beer delivers the equivalent of 9 drinks or shots of liquor.
Oregon is rife with microbrews, which average 5% alcohol and some go higher...draft beers
are commonly served in 16 oz. flagons. So-called Light beers have calories, not alcohol,
removed. Wine is generally served 5 ounces to a glass and alcohol content averages 12%, so that
a glass of vino is no sober way out. Drink slowly and give your system more time to process the
alcohol, and by all means, eat while you drink.
The foregoing emphasizes that driving sobriety is menaced by any choice of alcoholic beverage
and the quantity consumed is your measurement of piloting safety.
Wherever on this globe of ours that civil authorities monitor citizens' actions, driving while
impaired is recognized as worthy of severe penalties. Each of our United States handles alcohol
regulations differently, but all 50 agree that a driver is legally drunk when his blood alcohol level
reaches .08. To reach this level, a man weighing 170 lbs. would need to consume four drinks in
an hour on an empty stomach. Women at 140 pounds can get there with three drinks. It takes
about six hours after drinking for the body to cleanse a system reaching .08.
Stats compiled by various authorities agree that a driver with an .08 reading is 11 more times
likely to be in a fatal accident as compared to a sober pilot. In 2007, 60% of drivers with a BAC
of .15 were involved in fatal crashes. Watch your evening news and a common reference to
serious car crashes with injuries or death is "alcohol was involved."
We are personally experiencing the economic and mental costs of driving drunk...it's just not
worth it, folks! We'll bring more on this subject in our next installment and when you watch
your news reports on the 'telly' repeat the mantra that "sobriety and seat belts" should be every
driver's watchwords for self, and any passengers.


© 2011 Fred Delkin