Nonalcoholic Beer

Occasionally, I like to drink nonalcoholic beer. Especially if I am the designated driver. While thinking about nonalcoholic beer one day, I wondered if it is illegal to drink one while driving. Of course, you can’t drink beer while driving, but I’m sure most of us drink coffee, pop, milk, whatever. So, can I pop open a cold (nonalcoholic) beer to drink on the way home from work?

Hmmm. I really doubt that it’s illegal. Even if you were pulled over and tested, it would come up negative, so what could they arrest you for?

You never know, though. It is illegal to sell nonalcoholic beer to minors.

I would be careful. The so called non-alcoholic beers are
not completely free of alcohol: they still contain +/- 0.5%
of alcohol.

0.5% is about the same as the amount of naturally occurring alcohol in fruit juice. Frozen orange juice is actually a little higher. (I looked into this because I was drinking nonalcoholic beer when I was pregnant.)

I may have been misinformed, but a store clerk told me that they can’t sell O’Douls (and the like) to minors in New York. If it is regulated to that extent, I suppose it is possible that drinking it while driving might also violate open container laws. At any rate, I would suggest that any activity, no matter how benign, which might draw the attention of a cop is a bad idea on general principles.

Thanks for the info. I didn’t even think about it being illegal to buy it for underage people (not that I’ve bought any for the neighborhood kids!!).

Regarding the alcohol content: I was aware there is a smidge of alcohol in them, but I would guess in the time it takes to drink one, the alcohol would already be diluted into your bloodstream before you actually drove a car.

Whoops! Sorry, folks. I just realized that I largely duplicated Cher3’s posting.

I’m sure it differs from area to area, but I know several states do consider a Non-Alky brew to be open container. Not so much for the alcohol, as they know it’s pretty hard to get whipped up on O’Doul’s, but for the logistical problems, mainly among underage drinkers. Alcohol itself can’t be detected by smell, only the type of drink and non-alky beer smells just like real beer. So if a cop pulls over a car with a few people in it all drinking “something” in a non-alcoholic beer bottle, or a bunch of empties rolling around, the only way to know if it was “real” beer or “fake” beer, would be to actually test each sample. It wasn’t a real problem at first, but underagers quickly learned that they could drink beer, then ‘safely’ drive around, keeping a near empty six-pack of fake beer in the car to “decoy” the cops, and even filling nonalky bottles with real beer “for the road”. According to CA hwy patrol, in those two cases.

As far as selling to minors, AFIAK, it is not illegal in most areas to sell it to minors, but many establishments volunarily require an age of 21 for liability issues.

IMHO, you may have things a bit mixed up… not “alcohol-free beer”, but “free ahcohol beer”! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Wow Turbo, I never even thought about “faking it” with real beer in a nonalcohol bottle. Geez, kids will do anything to drink some beer, huh?

I suppose I’ll stick to my coffee and Coke drinking in the car and leave the beer drinking in the bar. Thanks!

I believe the reasoning behind not selling to minors is not that non-alcoholic beers contain some alcohol, but that drinking them will develop the taste for beer in minors.

I also noodled around a bit looking for laws about driving with non-alcoholic beer. The only case I found concerned a guy who had his license pulled when he was found driving after drinking NA beer, even though his blood alcohol was legal. However, he had a previous DUI. The judge ruled that his license should be returned but that the police had not wrongfully pulled it.

How’s this for a double standard - Here in Connecticut, state law prohibits the sale of non-alcoholic beer to minors. State law also prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone on Sundays and holidays. A person of legal age CAN, however, purchase non-alcoholic beer on those days.

How’s this for a double standard - Here in Connecticut, state law prohibits the sale of non-alcoholic beer to minors. State law also prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone on Sundays and holidays. A person of legal age CAN, however, purchase non-alcoholic beer on those days. So, is it booze or isn’t it?

Ooops! Sorry about the double-post. Would the moderator be kind enough to delete one of them along with this one?

This is very interesting. The judge thought he should keep his license, and also that the cops were right in pulling it? How are both of those possible at the same time?

I would think that they’d applaud the fact that he wasn’t drinking alcohol before driving, although he had a record of doing so before. It appears to me that the driver saw he was wrong in getting a DUI, and attempted to avoid getting another. Very interesting indeed.

Potentially, you could get legally impaired by drinking N/A beer. In some states (Michigan for one) you are impaired at .08 blood alcohol level. That’s about 2 to 3 regular beers in an hour depending on your weight.

The alcohol content in your average beer is around 5%, so 10 N/A beers equals 1 regular beer. Drink 20 or 30 in an hour and you would be impaired. Of course, you probably wouldn’t be driving. You’d be camped out in the bathroom.

*Originally posted by monster *

That’s part of the open container thing I mentioned earlier. Assuming the obvious: guy gets pulled over (for whatever reason), cop smells beer on his breah, gives him a breathalyzer and it comes back clean. Runs him through the computer and finds he has a DUI on record. Later at the station it’s found that the breathalyzer actually is working and he’s telling the truth. At least in CA, once the cop enters in the computer that your license is pulled for suspicion of DUI, the cops are out of the picture no matter what happens. You have to go to court or at least get the DA to sign you off before DMV will give it back.

In that situation, would you as a cop give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps the breathalyzer really is correct, or would you consider that it might be broken? Personally, I wouldn’t fault the cop and probably would have done the same.

I drink NA beer (no alcohol) frequently when I want a beer but not the booze, and wish they’d come up with some more types.

NA beer is treated, for some mysterious reason, as regular beer. I talked to a police officer about this, mainly because I thought up a ‘good’ joke. I was going to drive by some cops and make sure they saw my beer so’s when they pulled me over, I could give them the NA bottle and laugh.

I’m glad that I did not! NA beer has .5% alcohol in it, less than Nytall, less than wine. Guzzling a case of it would not even give you a buzz, but because it is beer and has that itty bitty bit of alcohol in it, the stuff is booze!

Kids may not buy it because of this, though they can buy any cough medicine with more alcohol in it than in the beer.

You will register below the legal level if stopped and tested while drinking it.

You will be ticketed under the open container law if caught with an open bottle in your car!

Had I pulled my ‘joke,’ the cops still could have given me a ticket!

Something else was pointed out, which is probably why the stuff remains listed as booze: you buy a bottle, dump the stuff out, fill it with real beer and if stopped, the officer might let you go, figuring you’re drinking the beer flavored soft drink. It might not happen often, but could happen enough to eventually cause problems.