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Old 08-18-2004, 01:04 AM
gradysfalcon gradysfalcon is offline
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Default Court upholds beer drinker's license loss

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A judge ruled the state can suspend the driver's license of a man who lost his driving privileges after his doctor reported to police that he drank a six-pack of beer a day.

But the judge also said Keith Emerich may obtain restricted driving privileges as long as he uses a device that tests his blood-alcohol content before starting his car.

Emerich, 44, a printing company employee, was notified in April he would lose his license, about two months after he disclosed his drinking habit to doctors treating him for an irregular heartbeat.

A Pennsylvania law from the 1960s requires doctors to report any impairments in patients that could compromise their ability to drive safely.

Emerich has said he does not drive drunk and argued that he has reduced his beer drinking to weekends and has a clean driving record apart from a drunk-driving conviction when he was 21.

Emerich's lawyer, Horace Ehrgood, said Tuesday he was mostly happy about the ruling, which was released Monday, because it would enable Emerich to drive again. But he said it did not address the issue of how Emerich can ever prove to officials he can drive safely.

Ehrgood said no decision had been made on whether to appeal the ruling.

Emerich said the legal battle has left him "just about tapped out" financially. "I'm being treated like a criminal. The only crime I committed was getting sick and telling the doctor the truth," he said.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Anthony Haubert said the department was pleased Emerich's license suspension was upheld.

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