Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Venezuela goes dry at 5

The Venezuelan government have enacted a country wide law that bans liquor sale after 5 pm in the days leading up to Easter Sunday in order to decrease automobile fatalities and drunk driving. The ban lifts on April 9th, the day after Easter. The dry law is usually enforced in Venezuela during periods such as elections, not over major holidays when Venezuelans are planning to head to the beaches or head to the local bars.

Venezuelans are accomplished spirit drinkers and were the world's No. 7 Scotch whisky importers last year, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. Business lunches often include an entire bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch.

Ironically it has been reported that it is almost as easy as ever to get a drink in Caracas, although bartenders have to be careful. One local barman still pours a heavy "Coke" for hard-drinking Venezuelans. "Long live the dry law," he said with a grin as he handed out another round of Cokes with rum.

Interior Minister Pedro Carreno defended the law on Monday against charges it was an assault on free trade, saying it was an attempt to save lives. "We need to raise people's awareness in general now that the majority of injuries and deaths during peak holiday season are in traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers," he said.

I agree that drunk driving is a problem that needs to be addressed worldwide however I'm not sure if banning sales after 5 is the best way to curb the behavior. This only means that people need to get to the liquor store earlier and be more secretive about their habits. This could be counter effective toward their goal of reducing drunk driving.

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