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Approval of Palcohol raises concerns about drunk driving

As some residents here in Indiana may have read about in a newspaper or heard about elsewhere, federal regulators have finally given the green light on a product that had been put on hold about a year ago. The product is called Palcohol, a powdered cocktail mix that contains alcohol. And just as it did a year ago, the product is still raising concerns about whether it could lead to more drunk driving incidences.

For those who are unfamiliar with Palcohol, it was described in a recent Washington Post article as "freeze-dried, powdered alcohol" to which consumers simply add water in order to make an alcoholic beverage. It will be sold in pouches that can also serve as the glass, explains Lipsmark, the company behind Palcohol. But because of its portability and the fact that it contains alcohol even without the addition of water, some worry Palcohol could be abused, leading to more drunk driving arrests and crashes as well.

According to the packaging label, Palcohol contains 55 percent alcohol by weight when in its powder form. Because it could easily be added to foods, some worry that a few will try to conceal Palcohol when attending sporting events or concerts. Because a vendor is not monitoring their intake, a person could leave the event highly intoxicated, possibly even while driving afterwards. This could result in drunk driving accidents that could become complicated, especially when determining liability.

Being able to conceal Palcohol in foods or innocuous looking beverages also raises an interesting issue: if the food or beverage is within the reach of a driver and it contains Palcohol, could the person be cited for drunk driving? Would officers have enough reasonable suspicion to test the food or beverage in order to determine alcohol content? Because of the novelty of Palcohol, will we see an increase in drunk driving arrests or even crashes once the product is distributed for sale?

As you can see, Palcohol might complicate things, especially when it comes to drunk driving. But because the product will be treated no differently than liquid alcohol, our readers can rest assured that their right to compensation from a negligent driver will also not change.

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