How Much Should Police Be Allowed To Drink On The Job?


Contract clauses that set blood-alcohol limits for police officers have become common across Illinois, says the Chicago Tribune. A provision in the new Worth, Il., police contract that on-duty officers are considered under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.03 or higher has sparked debate. Three trustees opposed it, even though the rule has been in place since 2003. Said Trustee Mary Rhein: “How can an officer issue a ticket if they have more alcohol in their system than the person they pull over?”

A random survey of Chicago-area departments shows that alcohol limits in contracts range from 0.08 to 0.02. Studies show that impairment can begin at 0.02 with slight euphoria, mild relaxation and possible lightheadedness. David Wickster of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council said the accepted limit for officers used to be .10. It fell to 0.08 for many departments when the state adjusted its standard definition of drunkenness, and it has been decreasing since. Prohibiting alcohol may “sound good and feel good,” but it is impossible for some officers to obey, especially when they are undercover, he said. “Having to drink, in some scenarios, is part of your job,” he said.


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