Keith Emerich – the self-described “Joe Six-Pack” who lost his driver’s license after telling a doctor that he drinks up to 10 Budweisers a day – can get back on the road, a judge has ruled, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Before he can drive, Emerich must install an “ignition interlock,” a built-in blood-alcohol breath test that requires the driver to exhale below 0.025 percent before the car will start. The state’s legally prohibited level for most drivers is 0.08. “Just think of the stigma that’s going to put on me, blowing into some tube just to start your car,” Emerich, 44, said “This is how I’m being treated, like some common criminal. And all I did was go to the doctor.”
An irregular heartbeat led Emerich to a hospital in February. Emerich acknowledged drinking six to 10 beers a day. Doctors told him the alcohol was damaging his heart. Two months later, he received a letter from the state revoking his license. The decision was based on the doctor’s judgment that Emerich had an alcohol problem. Pennsylvania is one of only six states that direct physicians to report drivers with potentially dangerous medical conditions. It is the only state to list alcohol abuse as a problem that should be brought to official attention. About 230 Pennsylvania drivers lost licenses last year after doctors reported their drug or alcohol addiction. “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 Horace M. Ehrgood, Emerich’s attorney.