Tucumcari man fighting non-alcoholic beer driving citation

Posted at: 06/21/2013 6:26 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It may have “non-alcoholic” written on it but did you know driving with an open bottle of O’Doul’s can get you in trouble with the police?

A Tucumcari man is trying to fight it after he was given a citation back in 2008, and as KOB Eyewitness News 4 learned, that isn’t the only thing you can get in trouble for.

Gary Southern said it came as a complete shock when he got a ticket for having a drink that has the words “non-alcoholic” on it open in his car. But New Mexico State Police said it still counts.

We all know drinking and driving is illegal. But Gary Southern never thought drinking a non-alcoholic malt drink would get him in trouble. “It’s not alcoholic,” said Southern.

Southern was pulled over in Tucumcari back in 2008 for what he said was a traffic violation. But when cops saw an open bottle of O’Doul’s he was cited on the spot for having an open container.

A bottle of O’Doul’s has .5% alcohol, but state police told KOB that’s enough for it to be illegal to have it open in your car.

State police said if they see you driving with an open bottle of O’Doul’s, beer or even hand sanitizer, they can give you a citation.

“We have dealt with individuals that get drunk off Listerine. So it’s the same thing it has alcohol so you can be cited for it,” said Sergeant Emmanuel Gutierrez with state police.

Southern told KOB the citation basically ruined his life. He said he lost his job with the state of Colorado. But he said he’ll continue to fight to get it taken off his record.

State police told KOB they give citations on a case-by-case situation.

Southern will file an appeal with the judge next week in Tucumcari. 

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