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DWI law tightened; Sunday sales loosened

It seems ironic that the same state Legislature that tightened up driving while intoxicated laws also has made it easier to obtain liquor.
Legislators voted to change the legal blood-level limit for gross misdemeanor driving while intoxicated to .16 percent, down from .20. According to a Star Tribune analysis, that could result in 3,000 more gross misdemeanor arrests each year, a 71 percent increase.
According to David Bernstein, chair of the Minnesota DWI Task Force, the change will mostly affect repeat offenders, who have an average .165 blood alcohol content.
Being charged with a gross misdemeanor rather than a misdemeanor could mean longer jail terms, a maximum of one year in jail rather than the 90 days for the current misdemeanor standard.
And maybe that’s OK. Drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .15 or higher are much more likely to get into motor vehicle accidents. The more we can do to get these repeat offenders off the road, the better.
But in other liquor-related news, the Legislature has made it easier to get alcohol by changing the Sunday liquor law. The Legislature authorized cities to allow the Sunday sale of “growlers.” And restaurants can now start serving alcoholic beverages at 8 a.m. on Sunday, rather than the previous 10 a.m.
The new Sunday law does not, however, allow off-sale liquor sales from liquor stores. Many who wish to drink on Sundays are now relishing the ability to take home growlers — large bottles of crafted beer.
We suspect people will drink on Sunday if that is their desire, regardless of serving start times at restaurants or whether they have to buy their alcohol ahead of time on Saturday or take a growler or two home on Sunday.
But the law is inconsistent. If breweries can sell growlers to customers to take home on Sundays, liquor stores also ought to be able to sell on Sundays.
So, let’s be consistent … either allow all businesses the opportunity to sell on Sunday, or none of them. The rules should be the same for all.