Down a Sixpack, Tell Your Doctor: Lose Your Driver’s License

From the Patriot News of Harrisburg, PA: Beer drinker fights to get driver’s license back.

LEBANON – Keith Emerich regrets telling his doctors the truth.

The Lebanon man told doctors who were treating him for an irregular heartbeat that he drinks six to 10 beers a day. If not for his admission in February, Emerich, 44, said he would still have his driver’s license.

The state Department of Transportation recalled Emerich’s license as of April 1 because he was reported by a physician as having a medical condition that impairs his driving ability. Emerich’s medical condition, according to PennDOT, is substance abuse.

10 Responses to “Down a Sixpack, Tell Your Doctor: Lose Your Driver’s License”

  1. Donald Sensing Says:

    Two observations.

    1. States have steadily eroded the custom of privilege that has held sway for many decades – even centuries for some professions such as my own, clergy. My own state’s laws require that I report certain kinds of criminal offenses even if I hear them under the privilege of the confessional. I don’t know whether the doctor volunteered the beer-drinking information or was compelled by law, and am no expert on doctor-patient privilege, but I understand why someone miught be troubled by the reporting of it.

    2. That being said, this man does indeed have a very serious alcohol problem. He needs treatment. That is a lot of beer to drink every day. The man has a genuine and serious drinking problem, and should not be driving!

  2. read closer Says:

    Umm, thats a six pack, on a weekend day

    That could be 1 beer every two hours sitting on your porch or bbqing

    and you’re saying he’s a menace and needs treatment?!

  3. Donald Sensing Says:

    I have no little experience dealing with substance abusers, esp. of alcohol. When a man says his “estimate” (his word) is that he drinks six-10 beers per day, what’s really happening is that he’s drinking probably 14 beers per day or more. Alcohol-dependent people, to say nothing of actual alcoholics, always underestimate the amount of alcohol they actually consume (or lie about it, take your pick). This man has a serious alcohol problem, and won’t face it.

  4. rick pietz Says:

    Bullshit! Drinking 10 – 12 beers/day, does not mean the guy has a problem. That is the problem w/ our society; we’re always trying to ‘increase efficiency’ to the detriment of indidvidual liberties. The .8/.08,8.0, etc. blood alcohol standard, depending on where you place your decimal point, is crap. There are people who can’t drive sober. There are many old people driving around here impaired far worse by the ravages of age, than the average adult male w/ three beers in him.

    I feel strongly that we whould go back to the ‘field sobriety test’ as the standard. Yes, it’s subjective, but the influence of alcohol on different people, is as different as the people. Better that I can show up in front of the judge, if necessary, and say, “See. In the police video, I was able to do everything the officer asked, w/ no apparent difficulty, hence I was not drunk. Rather than a stupid (I’ll argue baseless) number.

    You know, one peanut can kill some people, and I eat them by the bag. Based on the logic of the ‘state’, we should outlaw peanuts. And, in many cases we have; my understanding is that some school lunchrooms will not allow students to bring PB&J sandwiches to school, lest some allergic kid trade his lunch and wind up in shock. Point is, chemicals affect different people very differently. For instance, I don’t experience hangovers, most people I know do.

    For the past week I’ve been drinking my usual one glass of O.J., 9 cups of coffee, and 12-14 16 oz. glasses of water. Prior to that, I was drinking usual one glass of O.J., 9 cups of coffee, and 10 -12 beers a day. If you start with your first beer around two in the afternoon, and drink a beer per hour, you wind up at min. 10 beers. So what?

    I drink constantly. It doesn’t really matter what it is, I drink constantly. My body is on about a continuous ‘flush’. And I think beer tastes better than water, but I’ve decided until I find employment, I’ll drink filtered tap water instead.

  5. a_stupid_box Says:

    Donald, is what you say true?

    “My own state’s laws require that I report certain kinds of criminal offenses even if I hear them under the privilege of the confessional.”

    If so, this completely undercuts the idea of confession. This would make sinners not want to confess if they may be potentially punished further (given the death sentense?) as a result.

    If I’m not mistaken, confession is based on the idea that when an individual feels sincerely sorry for his actions and admits to his transgressions he is forgiven — the punishment being that you had to live with the guilt you felt.

    While I may be agnostic, Donald, I don’t think that you should remain in your state of residence if you’re required to compromise any of the tenants of your religion. Given, people can do some pretty sick and twisted stuff, but if I’m not mistaken forgiveness in the eyes of the lord trumps punishment at the hands of man.

    As for the whole beer thing…

    Rick, if you’re drinking ten beers a day, starting at 2:00 in the afternoon, you’re drinking until midnight. That’s not healthy. While I do agree that a field sobriety test should be the end-all, regardless of blood alcohol content, the proof is in the numbers — intoxication-related vehicular fatalities have gone down (at least in my state) since the numbers were set.

    The doctor did the right thing. Kinda. While the man did possibly have a substance abuse problem, if it affected his driving adversely it would have been noticed by the police. It shouldn’t be an automatic revocation of his driving license, though he should get some help.

    On some weekends I drink a six pack per day — this is usually AFTER I’ve done any driving that I was going to, or spaced out enough so that I’m under the legal definition of intoxicated. It’s possible to drink a lot of alcohol every day and be a responsible driver — so long as you drive when you’re sober.

    Technically, the man was functioning properly. The drinking wasn’t creating his heart problem and wasn’t having adverse effects which impaired his everyday life. Therefore, a case could easily be made that he wasn’t “abusing” alcohol.

  6. rick pietz Says:

    a_stupid_box, your point about it being not healthy is accurate. Probably if I were to maintain that rate for years or something, I could see where it could damage certain organs in the long run. On the other hand, the more you breath and eat (here I do really well, I eat at least one meal every other day), the more free radicals you releas…Mercury, West Nile, percholates, TCE, smog, environmental destruction, the restarting of nuclear weapon development by our own country, oh, yeah, probably the one I sure is least likely – terrorism.

    Hell, we’ll all die of something, and if the choice is self inflicted, rather than from the external environment, I really don’t see the difference. And I really don’t see death as so big a deal that I should spend my life worrying about it. I’m in no hurry to go, but since it’s inevitable, I can’t see wasting a lot of time sweating the details. I’m here for X years. I’d like to enjoy my X years, and if X+n years can be reached wonderful, as long as it’s not X+n years of discomfort, long term stress, avoiding risks, tedium…

  7. a_stupid_box Says:

    Well, you might want to die of something more pleasant than sirhosis of the liver is all. I don’t particularly think that worrying about death is the best way to live, but I’d think one would prefer not to die after an extended period of excrutiating pain and a life of health problems.

    Though I’ll give you that if you constantly remain too drunk to realize you’re in steady pain, then you’ve beaten that little connundrum.

  8. dixiedarlin Says:


    Maybe you believe it is fine and okay to have 10-12 beers every day (starting at around 2pm), but I am here to tell you that it is not fine to have 10-12 beers a day (6 out of 7 days) starting at 4pm (when you get home from work) until you pass out somewhere around 11pm. Then 5 hours later, you are working on a Boening Aircraft because you are an aviation mechanic. This is the problem I am having with my significant other right now. When people’s lives depend on the accuracy of his (beer filled) mind, I believe 10-12 beers within a 5-7 hour period is EXCESSIVE!

  9. Beer Guy Says:

    If you could spell cirrhosis, you’d actually have a point….I’ve had 14 beers & can still see (already) that I can spell better than you!!! Oops, I’m out of control…. BTW, dixiedarlin, it is “BOEING” aircraft, sweetheart…..Let the doctors tell you all you want……Most are incompetent!!! Just remember, medicine is an ART, not a SCIENCE, as I was once told by a Family Practitioner at one point because I am an Engineer & was asking too many questions during a routine visit…FP medicine is a joke!!

  10. charlie Says:

    My comment to the pro-beer drinkers is this. I live with a man who consumes 10-12 beers a day. I hope any one who has lived with a person like this can relate. Your beer drinking stinks! Your body stinks! I can smell a beer drinker 5 feet away. Plus the constant diarrhea you suffer from daily is disgusting as well! Nothing more to say!

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