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Patrick T. Stokes

president & ceo, anheuser-busch companies

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Beer Baron Decries New Legal Limits

Patrick Stokes, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch Cos. said that efforts to lower blood alcohol legal driving limits are "easy fixes" that may hurt more than they help.

"Just imagine what could be accomplished if the same energy and resources went into targeting the real drunk-driving offenders - the ones with blood alcohol content levels two or three times the legal limit," Patrick Stokes, CEO of the Budweiser brewer, told Boston College's Chief Executives' Club.

Stokes weighed in on an increasingly heated debate over what constitutes drunken driving. Several states are looking at lowering their legal limits from 0.08 percent to 0.06 percent blood alcohol ratios.

Alcohol retailers, worried about the sales impact of so-called zero-tolerance policies, have suggested the ability to go out, have a drink or two and drive home is under attack. "What you do is scare the responsible person that has two beers and thinks that he can't drive home," Stokes said in an interview.

He went on to say that lowering that threshold did little to address drunken-driving fatalities. Stokes pointed to federal data that show 62.4 percent of fatal accidents involved drivers with no alcohol in their blood. And 31.8 percent involved drivers with more than a 0.08 reading. Stokes said just 2.5 percent of traffic fatalities involved drivers in the 0.08 to 0.09 range - the range affected by revised state laws.

Adapted from article by Greg Gatlin
Boston Herald
April 30, 2003