Walmart’s alcohol curbside delivery is a DUI driver’s dream
Why some retail convenience simply isn’t worth it
On average, a drunk driver will drive 80 times under the influence before the first arrest, according to DoSomething.org. I pondered on this statistic recently while reading about how Walmart now offers a curbside alcohol pickup at 2,000 stores. (In California and Florida, 200 stores are eligible for curbside pickup. Do we not have enough weird Florida news without this option?) The retail chain has already made itself a force to be reckoned with in the past few decades, but becoming a drive-thru liquor store is just not a good look.
Recommended Read: “Walmart banned its open-carry policy and I still won’t shop there”
There are already 58 billion liquor stores in the United States. Do we really need one that’ll bring the liquor to your car?
I’ve already made my distaste for Walmart well-known. But unlike my views on gun control, I’m disputing this new business decision from the point of view of someone who enjoys liquor. It is rare that I don’t grab a whiskey sour on my way to a monthly storytelling event that I co-host. I almost always have Merlot in my home, and it’s not uncommon for me to order one of the two when I go out to eat. The difference is I know I’m driving to these pubs, grocery stores and restaurants, so my BMI meter is already set for just how much I can indulge on my way there and back.
As someone who has worked in retail (both Walmart and Walgreens), I got used to carding people regardless of how much they protested. But ordering liquor online adds unnecessary stress to the employees. And what are Walmart employees supposed to do when they spy someone who looks a little under age (or not matching the ID of the person who bought the groceries) as they walk to the pickup car? Could this put the employees in danger?
The DUI problem in Illinois
More than 2,000 Walmart locations across 29 states will allow grocers to pick up wine and beer with the rest of their groceries. And the college-age version of me feels like this is far easier access than necessary. Contrary to popular belief, fresh air, coffee, showers and food do not miraculously sober someone up. It takes approximately one hour for the body to metabolize one drink, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. So there’s already the matter of time needed before even getting behind the wheel (assuming the driver isn’t already sober).
If arrested for a DUI, there’s also the one-year risk of prison time, a $2,500 maximum fine and/or one-year loss of full driving privileges for Illinois drivers.
So who is most likely to drive under the influence (in Illinois)?
- Men (75 percent of those arrested)
- People under the age of 35 (57 percent)
- People drinking between 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends
- People with a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .16 (twice the legal limit in Illinois)
And should the person be a little sauced while picking up the liquor — and ridiculous enough to drink it in the car — that’s adding insult to injury. If a driver is suspected of drunk driving, refusing to complete a breath, urine, blood or performance tests can result in the loss of driving privileges. (In Illinois, 91 percent of all drivers arrested for DUIs, who were eligible, lost their driving privileges.)
Does liquor curbside pickup really matter?
From a retail employee’s perspective, if I see someone falling all over the floor or looking way too tipsy while buying liquor, I can at least glance around to see if there’s a sober driver with him/her. Then I can get management involved to refuse the sale. But with an ID checked in a car, especially with a person sitting firmly in one of the car seats, this option is removed. And I’ve met more than a fair share of functioning alcoholics, so a casual glance just won’t do it.
With a DUI-related death happening every 50 minutes (that’s 29 people in the U.S. every single day), this is the one area where even my whisker sour-loving brain says, “I think this store policy should be reconsidered.” If you can’t walk into the store to buy the liquor, or get it delivered in the comfort of your home, then it’s not worth buying.