Vice Squad
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Talk to Your Doctor, Lose Your Driver's License

That's what happened to one fellow in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, according to this AP article (registration required) in today's Chicago Tribune. He told his doctor that his average daily consumption of beer ran to more than a six-pack. The doctor, it seems, notified the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which then sent the patient a notice that his license was being revoked for (quoting the Trib article) "medical reasons related to substance abuse." The doctor may not have had any choice in the matter, as a state law requires physicians to notify the licensing authorities of "any physical or mental impairments that could compromise a patient's ability to drive safely..." The patient claims that he drinks at home (and now only on weekends, because of the heart condition that led him to the doctor's office in the first place): "'What I do in the privacy of my own home is none of PennDOT's business,' he said."

People on average understate their alcohol consumption by some 50%, though there is evidence that the underestimation is greater for heavy drinkers.

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