Do you know your ABVs? Officials with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and University of Minnesota Police say many novice drinkers don’t, and the consequences can be deadly.
ABV stands for alcohol by volume, the standard measure of how much alcohol is contained in a beverage. With the popularity of craft brews and wines on the rise, even veteran drinkers can underestimate the amount of alcohol they are consuming.
“Two beers isn’t just two beers, depending on what you are drinking,” Terry Kelley, a special agent with the DPS’s Alcohol and Gaming Enforcement division, said at a news conference Monday at the Library Bar in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood. “Be mindful what you are consuming because not everything is equal.”
This fall, University of Minnesota Police have taken steps to educate students about the risks and dangers of abusing alcohol and to highlight services available to those who do. Officers passed out fliers on campus reminding students to drink responsibly, call campus escort or transportation services such as the Gopher Chauffeur to get home safely, and call 911 when they or somebody they are with has had too much to drink and needs medical attention.
“The safety of students is our biggest priority,” said U Police Chief Matt Clark. “We’ve seen stories of impaired college students falling and severely injuring themselves, students who pass out in the cold and suffer major physical damage, or worse.”
The U also has instituted Operation Last Call to catch underage drinkers. Clark said since its inception, the number of citations for underage drinking has fallen by 40 percent. The message, Clark said, is that students need to learn what their limitations are and know what they are drinking.
Overconsumption is a growing problem in Minnesota. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average 73 people die each year in the state from alcohol poisoning. That puts Minnesota as one of the top states for alcohol poisoning per million residents, the CDC said.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the standard 12-ounce beer has a 5 percent alcohol volume. The average craft beer is equal to having 1.8 beers, a fact most people don’t know, Kelley said.
“Typically your pours at a bar are 16, 20 ounces and sometimes even larger when people are ordering tall beers,” Kelley said. “In reality, with higher alcohol content and more quantity you are consuming more alcohol than you think you are. That is the awareness we want people to have. The person who has had a couple Long Island ice teas has consumed 4-8 drinks, thinking they have only had two.”