For Revelers Behind the Wheel, 'Only 2 Beers' Is an Unwise Line

Bar manager Rick Baldwin, center, of Rock Bottom Brewery, with Dawn Vechery and Dave Foster, says most patrons know to avoid drinking and driving.
Bar manager Rick Baldwin, center, of Rock Bottom Brewery, with Dawn Vechery and Dave Foster, says most patrons know to avoid drinking and driving. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tonight's the night, the big celebration, ringing in the new. Ten! Nine! Eight! . . . champagne toasts and kisses. And in the wee hours, after the bars empty, most revelers will make it home fine.

For others, though, the party will end with the whoop of a siren and a sudden burst of blue light in the rearview mirror.

Good evening, sir. Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?

Of course you know: because you were driving 30 mph on the interstate, trying, with intermittent success, to stay between the lines.

No, officer . . .

You're squinting up from the driver's seat, blinded by the black-metal Maglite shining in your eyes.

All right, sir. Have you been drinking tonight?

At this point, you might as well put the handcuffs on yourself. You're busted. You just don't know it yet.

You think maybe you can talk your way out of this. And here's what your panicked brain comes up with, five words guaranteed to do you no good:

I only had two beers.

The "two beers" line has been uttered so often that it's a joke among police officers. In 20 years of patrolling highways, Virginia State Police Trooper L.L. Parker has heard that slurred lie more times than she can remember.

"I don't know of any officer out here who, if you tell them you only had two beers, they'll tell you, "Okay, then, have a nice night,' " Parker said, chuckling. "But drunks, for whatever reason, they say it all the time."


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