Ohio Representative Dan Ramos is working hard to ensure that stronger beer will be available for sale in his state. His proposed legislation, House Bill 68, would increase the alcohol by volume (ABV) limit for beer sold in Ohio from 12% to 21%.
The new law would enable Ohio residents to easily purchase popular “high gravity” beers such as Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA or Founder’s Devil Dancer. Additionally, the bill is expected to invigorate Ohio’s craft beer industry.
House Bill 68, which is receiving enthusiastic support from both sides of the aisle, is expected to pass through House committees by the spring and to exit the House before the summer recess. Then, the Senate would take up the bill during the fall. If approved, the new 21% ABV cap could go into effect in early 2017.
Ohio Is One of the Few States With a Cap on Beer AB
Unlike Ohio, most states in the country do not place a cap on the ABV of beer sold within their territory. This means that Ohio beer enthusiasts often drive hundreds of miles to states such as Kentucky, Indiana, or Michigan just to buy their favorite beer.
Ohio’s obsolete ABV law doesn’t just burden beer lovers—it also stifles innovation in Ohio’s craft beer industry. According to Representative Ramos, the ABV cap “is something that prevents Ohio brewers from competing in a level playing field in the higher gravity game.”
If Ohio raises its ABV cap, craft breweries would be able to put more beers on the market and potentially bring even more success to an already thriving industry. It is also possible that liquor stores and beer shops will see a growth in revenue as less consumers drive to other states to make their purchases.
Will Raising the Legal Alcohol Content of Beer Increase Risk of Drunk Driving?
Despite its widespread support, House Bill 68 also has its detractors. For example, Doug Scoles, the executive director of the Ohio chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) stated: “We have some deep reservations and strong concerns about passing this bill.”
Specifically, Scoles is concerned that when drinking high gravity beers, people will “reach a level of buzzed driving or impaired driving, much, much quicker” because consumers familiar with drinking normal beer may be caught off guard when drinking previously restricted high alcohol beers.
But even M.A.D.D. has not officially opposed House Bill 68. In fact, one of the most vocal opponents of the bill is the brewing giant MillerCoors, which in its testimony before the House argued that Ohio consumers would be confused by the new regulations that “blur the lines between beer” and other alcoholic beverages such as wine.
It’s likely that high gravity beers will soon be available across Ohio. If you’re a beer enthusiast, remember the risks of drinking and driving when enjoying your hobby. If you’ve been caught driving while over the limit, call the Columbus DUI attorneys with Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP today at (614) 500-3836 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.