ST. PAUL, Minn. — With so many new alcoholic beverages hitting the market recently, even the most experienced drinkers can underestimate how much alcohol they are consuming. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGE) says that a novice drinker may be completely blindsided by the effects of some beverages, and questions of how much is enough and how much is too much can be a matter of survival.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) considers a 12 ounce beer that contains five percent alcohol by volume (ABV) to be a regular drink, and many drinkers are unknowingly consuming more than they intended.
Crafting a New Drink
Craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries are popping up across the state. With craft brew licenses increasing by 431 percent in the past five years, people can choose from many different types of craft brews. Many are unaware that a typical craft beer is equivalent to drinking nearly two regular beers.
Not All Alcoholic Drinks Are Equal
Mixing drinks is not always a science and bartenders can add more or less alcohol to individual drinks. However, when comparing a regular beer with the typical alcohol content of other drinks, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports:
- The average craft beer = 1.8 regular beers
- 5 ounces of wine = 1 regular beer
- Moscow Mule = 1.3 regular beers
- Screw Driver = 1.3 regular beers
- Mojito = 1.3 regular beers
- Gin & Tonic = 1.6 regular drinks
- Martini = 1.2 – 1.4 regular drinks
- Margarita = 1.7 regular drinks
As the school year begins at colleges across Minnesota, inexperienced drinkers who have recently turned 21 will be experimenting with alcohol. The holiday-party season is coming up, too, and that’s another time when people may choose to drink alcohol. Those who pay attention to the volume and alcohol content of the drinks are more likely to drink responsibly and take action to be safe.
“The public’s safety is our number one priority,” said Michele Tuchner, Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division director. “If you don’t know how much alcohol you are drinking, you could be putting your life or the lives of those around you in danger. Educate yourself on the types of drinks you are consuming; it could make the difference between life and death.”
Before drinking, it’s extremely important to plan for the evening ahead.
- Know your ABVs: Use the NIAA “Cocktail Content Calculator.”
- The alcohol content-by-volume appears on the label of the bottle.
- Line up a sober ride before heading out for the night.
- Use the buddy system. When walking home, walk in pairs and make sure each member of your party gets inside the destination safely.
- Establishments should monitor their customers and stop serving when they see signs of intoxication.
- Speak up.
- If you see a friend drinking too much, encourage them to stop for the night.
- If you see an impaired person getting behind the wheel, find them a sober ride home.
- Don’t let an impaired person leave your home or an establishment alone.
Abusive and Underage Drinking on College Campuses
Over consumption and underage drinking is a tremendous concern for public safety officials, including the University of Minnesota Police Department.
To educate incoming freshman, U of M police distributed Abusive Drinking: What You Should Know flyers at the beginning of the school year. Police Chief Matt Clark continues to stress:
- Drink Responsibly
- Amnesty for 911 callers: The safety of the students is the police department’s number one priority. The program allows students to call for help without suffering any consequences.
- Be Safe and Avoid Injury: Over consumption can result in a higher likelihood of physical harm.
- Enforcement for Minor consumption: Minor’s caught consuming alcohol may be cited.
- Arrive Safely: Utilize campus escort programs such as:
“We’ve heard the stories of impaired college students falling and severely injuring themselves, students who pass out in the cold and suffer major physical damage or worse, and impaired students who are out late at night and have become victims of crime,” said Chief Matt Clark, University of Minnesota Police Department. “We encourage everyone, not just college students, to drink responsibly and plan ahead for a sober ride or a safe walk home.”
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division
AGED monitors the alcohol industry, issues both alcohol and gambling licenses, and approves regulatory practices. It provides technical and field assistance to businesses and local units of government. It conducts background investigations and criminal investigations relating to alcohol and lawful gambling, the Minnesota Lottery, pari-mutuel horse racetracks and card rooms, and tribal reservation gambling.
The division enforces laws pertaining to illegal gambling such as sports bookmaking and other illegal gambling activities. It initiates enforcement actions, resolves and mediates complaints on liquor and gambling violations. It conducts formal hearings on violators, and provides forums for discussion and resolution of liquor and gambling issues.
In 2014, AGED Activities Included:
- Gambling agents conducted 152 criminal investigations.
- 90 Tribal State compact compliance inspections.
- 12 Corporate background and licensing investigations for AGED, GCB and MRC.
- 1,402 investigations regarding alcohol complaints.
- 843 pre-license alcohol inspections.