“If one drinks two Maß in six or seven hours at Oktoberfest, it's possible,” Beckstein told German broadcaster Bayerischen Rundfunk, referring to the gigantic one-litre mugs used at the beer festival. “But naturally not if one drinks two Maß in two hours.”
However, it is “absolutely necessary” that novice drivers abstain from alcohol, he said, adding that while fighting alcohol abuse is a top priority, one shouldn't demonize a glass of beer or wine.
But Beckstein, who is facing re-election at the end of the month, was hammered from several quarters for his comments.
Head of the Bavarian Social Democrats (SPD), Franz Maget, told news agency DDP that Beckstein should be careful not to trivialize drink driving, which “means losing your driver's license and probably leads to avoidable accidents.” While he has no problem with enjoying beer, one should “definitely keep the car parked,” he said, adding “a former interior minister should know that.”
The German police union GDP also criticized Beckstein. “I ask myself what came over him,” head of GDP Harald Schneider said in Munich. “He must've had two Maß of beer before he said that. Things like this negate our work.”
Driving under the influence of alcohol endangers lives, Schneider said, adding that "99 percent" of people currently attending Oktoberfest are "more sensible" than Beckstein because they take public transportation to the festival.