This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 14th, 2001

Bourbon in a Tin Cup

I think it was Robert Traver who said in effect 'bourbon never tastes as good as it does in a tin cup by a campfire.'

These days single malt scotch seems to be favored, but I hope that too is by a campfire. Alcohol has been a part of fly fishing, and the celebration of days end for a long time. For me a cup of coffee from the pot cooked over the fire will do as well. My addictions also include Diet Pepsi, these days the coffee or the Pepsi are probably a much safer choice, especially if one is going to get in a car. If you are camped for the night and not driving that's another story.

We live in Washington state, one of the most liberal places in the U.S. - BUT, the laws here on alcohol consumption are not liberal. The laws are on the edge of being prohibitionist!

My dad's best friend Jack was a heavy drinker, and his wife's biggest fear was that he would be drunk and driving and be killed. As it turned out Jack was sober, driving home from work and killed by a drunk driver. Such is irony.

I understand the mothers who formed MADD, and their reasons. I'm not going to make this a diatribe on personal rights, or the fact that many legislatures in this country have seen fit to pass very restrictive laws on drinking and driving. What a person does in the privacy of their own home is not the point here.

It's fishing season! And for those who wish to imbibe it certainly is your choice, but I sincerely hope you are aware of the laws where you fish. Not just legal catch limits, but DUI/DWI laws as well. Some states use to allow an open container in vehicles, others don't. Some State Campgrounds do not allow alcoholic beverages either. Sure you can put booze in a coffee cup or a pop can, but it's the behavior the police are looking for. Drinking age varies from state to state as well. And the consequences may be more than you can afford.

Here's an example; in Washington state if you are under 21 you cannot have alcohol anywhere around you. You do not have to have had ANY alcohol to drink to be charged! If there is alcohol in the car you are in, or at a party you attend, you can be charged with Minor in Possession. Maximum sentence is 365 days in jail. Under 18? Revoke your license for one year. According to the brochure put out by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, "it takes about one glass of beer to get to a .02 BAC, for some people even less" which is enough to put minors in jail on the FIRST offense.

For adults, Washington law sets a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08. Here they consider a DUI as under the influence, and it applies to legal or illegal drugs as well as alcohol. For a first offense in Washington: 24 hours in jail or 15 days of Electronic Home Monitoring with a maximum of one year in jail. Suspended license from 90 days to one year, alcohol/drug assessment, fines from $685 to $8,125 and once all that is served, five years probation. They also use and require Ignition Interlock where the driver is required to blow into the device before starting the car. If the device detects alcohol the engine will not start. The offender pays for the rental of the device as well.

This is serious stuff.

A word of warning, having lived in other states, nothing makes the local police happier than to see someone from 'out-of-state' sitting in their jail for a DUI. So if you are traveling, have a rental car and are drinking and driving, you are really meat! It's just like free money to these communities.

I'm not against folks having a good time, I'm not against folks having a drink or two. But I don't want to see you become a statistic! Either dead or nailed for a DUI.

I have never been one to drink and fish. I've got enough to handle just trying to fool the fish! I do know folks who do however, and that's certainly their choice - but it seems in my mind to fall into the cooler full of beer and worms. It takes a bit more concentration to fly fish.

There are a lot of snags in life I've been fortunate enough to avoid. I hope you will avoid a really big one - if you want to share the comradeship of your fishing day with friends, don't drink and drive. Wait until you get home to do it. None of the day's adventure will be lost.

But if you're drinking and driving, you may just lose it all. ~ LadyFisher

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