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 "...Wine Vending Machines Complete With Breathalyzer" 
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Post "...Wine Vending Machines Complete With Breathalyzer"
Pennsylvania Introduces Wine Vending Machines Complete With Breathalyzer
by: James Parrish

For residents of a state with some of the most restrictive liquor laws in the United States, installing a boozy vending machine in Pennsylvania grocery stores is a pretty big deal.

In Pennsylvania, alcohol can only be purchased in state-owned stores; private, licensed convenience stores can sell up to two six-packs of beer per customer.

Until now. The state opened some kiosks in private supermarkets, including these automatic, remotely-manned wine dispensers. About the size of four large refrigerators, these machines keep the wines at room temperature. Consumers select a wine from a touch screen, swipe their ID, blow into an alcohol sensor, and look into a surveillance camera. A state employee in Harrisburg remotely verifies their identity and that the consumer isn't drunk.

According to state officials, the process takes about 20 seconds. It also saves them time and money, in that they can have the state employees check ID and sobriety from a centralized location, instead of having several employees based in each kiosk. This also gives consumers the option of picking up wine in the same place as the rest of their groceries.

While some consumers appreciate the convenience, many wine aficionados consider the process to be a little on the invasive side.

"The process is cumbersome and assumes the worst in Pennsylvania's wine consumers—that we are a bunch of conniving underage drunks," Keith Wallace, president and founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Big Brother worries aside, one has to wonder how effective carding buyers via satellite will be. While Pennsylvania licenses can be swiped and the magnetic strip read, what would happen for out-of-state buyers with a different drivers license? Or buyers the state official determines need to show a second form to verify their identification, would they have to hold it up to the camera?

Like the Virginia ABC, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has a policy not to overserve, or not to sell alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. Obviously, major signs of intoxication (smell, glassy eyes, etc) could be concealed on the satellite cameras, but how accurate are Breathalyzer tests? They require regular maintenance to ensure they are correctly calibrated. And what would the cutoff be to be considered intoxicated?

While program is still in its testing phase, one hundred more kiosks should be set to roll out next month.

About The Author
James Parrish is a traffic lawyer and DWI/DUI attorney in Manassas, Faifax, and Woodbridge, Virginia. Mr. Parrish formerly represented law enforcement agencies and instructs law enforcement officers. His firm offers free consumer's guides on various aspects of the law including DWI/DUI, reckless driving, dog bites/attacks and automobile accidents.
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Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:07 am
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