Keith Emerich, 44, said yesterday he disclosed his drinking habit in February to doctors who were treating him for an irregular heartbeat.
"I told them it was over a six-pack a day. It wasn't good for me -- I'm not gonna lie," Emerich said in a telephone interview from his home in Lebanon, about 30 miles east of Harrisburg.
Emerich said he initially thought the license recall notice was a joke, but then hired an attorney when he said he couldn't get an explanation from the transportation agency.
"They want me to go to counseling to prove that I'm OK," Emerich said. "I tried to go to a place ... and they wanted $250 for a three-month program."
Well it turns out that after a year of legal wrangling, he can drive again if he installs a blood-alcohol measuring device in his car.
Keith Emerich, the Lebanon, Pa., man who lost his driver's license after telling his doctor he drinks 10 beers a day, is being allowed to drive again -- as long as he installs a blood-alcohol measuring device in his car, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Aug. 18.
"Just think of the stigma that's going to put on me, blowing into some tube just to start your car," said Emerich, 44. "This is how I'm being treated, like some common criminal. And all I did was go to the doctor."
Emerich had his license suspended by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), after he went to Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon for an irregular heartbeat. When a physician inquired about his alcohol use, Emerich reported drinking six to 10 beers day. The doctor told Emerich that the alcohol was damaging his heart.
Two months later, Emerich received a letter notifying him that his license was being revoked based on the doctor's judgment that he has a drinking problem. Under Pennsylvania law, physicians are required to report drivers with medical conditions that could be potentially dangerous. Alcohol misuse is on the list of dangerous medical conditions.
Lebanon County Judge Bradford Charles supported PennDot's action and ordered Emrich to install the ignition interlock device, a breath test for alcohol that must register below 0.025 percent for the car will start.
"If Emerich's alcohol addiction had progressed to the point where he could not stop drinking even though it was killing him, how could we reasonably expect Emerich to forgo alcohol simply to ensure safe driving?" wrote Charles in his ruling.
"We're happy that it gives him a chance to drive, but the ruling doesn't answer the ultimate question: Why isn't he able to drive when he hasn't done anything wrong?" said lawyer Horace Ehrgood.
Emerich is responsible for the device's $1,000 cost. "I'm tapped out. I don't know what to do. I can't afford to keep this lawyer I have. I've already tapped into my 401(k) for all this," said Emerich. "But I guess it's do what they say or walk for a while."
So, not only can local Government take away your driver's license without a criminal conviction, or even an arrest for that matter, and not only do they require doctors to violate their patients' expectation of confidentiality, but now a citizen must pay thousands of dollars towards intrusive devices and "rehabilitaion" programs because he might someday commit a crime. Just what is that about?
Hat tip to Rowdydrunk79 on the Modern Drunkard forums.