The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association that represents more than 290 restaurants in Virginia alone, believes a new law requiring all first-time DUI offenders to install a Breathalyzer in their vehicle goes too far.
The association has lobbied against such laws on the national level and in Virginia and a number of other states, saying it punishes anyone who has had "one sip" over the legal limit.
Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the tougher penalty into law last week. It goes into effect July 1. Currently, installing ignition locks is a punishment in Virginia reserved for repeat offenders or first-time convictions where a person's blood alcohol content, or BAC, is higher than 0.15. The state's legal limit is 0.08.
Citing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Beverage Institute stated in a recent news release that the average blood alcohol content in a fatal car crash is 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.
“A 120 pound woman can reach the 0.08% BAC level by having two glasses of wine in two hours," the association's managing director, Sarah Longwell, stated in the news release. "Should she receive the same punishment as someone with a 0.19% BAC level or multiple offenses?"
The new law will cost Virginia more than $10.6 million annually to enforce, according to the restaurant association.
The group believes Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, has launched a national campaign to make Breathalyzers come installed in every vehicle as standard equipment.
Such a move would effectively eliminate "the ability to have a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ball game, or a champagne toast at a wedding and drive home," according to the American Beverage Institute.