Report Warns Restaurant Patrons of Higher Alcohol Levels

After a long week at work, many people like to head out to a local restaurant to chat with friends and family over a good meal, and either a glass of wine or a beer. According to a recently released report, however, these restaurant goers who purposely restrict their alcohol consumption at dinner may need to start becoming even more conscientious about the number of drinks they consume.

According to a report released earlier this week by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, the alcohol levels in the beers, wines and mixed drinks served in restaurants across the U.S. have been steadily increasing, meaning drinks are often far more potent than most patrons realize.

Of course, this means that patrons who are otherwise accustomed to having a few drinks over the course of an entire dinner may inadvertently find themselves over the legal limit for driving, a scenario that could result in an arrest for driving while intoxicated.

The report goes on to argue that the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans should perhaps be revised (i.e., lowered) in light of this new reality and to provide people with better advice on safe drinking.

These guidelines currently define a “drink” as either 12 ounces of regular beer with an alcohol content of 5 percent, 5 ounces of wine with an alcohol content of 12 percent or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits which are 40 percent alcohol by volume. They also dictate that moderate drinking for women translates into one drink a day and up to two drinks a day for men.

The inaccuracy of these guidelines becomes apparent, says the report authors, when you consider that the majority of wines sold in restaurants now have alcohol contents of 14 to 15 percent and are typically served in 6-plus ounce glasses. Similarly, they point out that some 12-ounce bottles of beer now have an alcohol content of 6 percent and that many restaurants serve beers in pint glasses, which are 16-ounces in size.

“The dietary guidelines aren’t very useful,” said one expert who was not involved in the report. “They don’t parallel the drinking habits of the American public.”

In the meantime, safety experts urge restaurant patrons to assume that the alcohol being served is more potent than it may appear and to adjust their intake accordingly.

Remember, if you’ve mistakenly consumed too much alcohol and find yourself arrested on suspicion of felony DWI here in St. Louis, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney who will carefully examine your situation and help you protect your future.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “How much alcohol in your drink? Stronger beverages make it tough to tell,” Brenda Goodman, Oct. 15, 2013

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