German Governor Recants Drunk Driving Gaffe

Bavaria's governor on Wednesday backed off an assertion that some people can drive safely after downing 2 liters (4.2 pints) of beer, a comment that drew anger and derision.

Police and political opponents had criticized Guenther Beckstein's remark Tuesday that "if one drinks the two liters over six or seven hours at the Oktoberfest, it is still possible" to drive. The Oktoberfest, Munich's annual celebration of beer-swilling, opens on Saturday.

Beckstein acknowledged that he had made a "rather unsuccessful contribution" to public debate.

"Anyone who drives is better off drinking nothing at all," he said in Nuremberg.

The beer-loving state's governor hammered home the point when he appeared at a beer tent in Berlin later Wednesday to open a local beer festival.

Beckstein wished guests a good evening — "with one liter of beer and perhaps a second too, but — so that this is clear to everyone — the car stays at home."

The governor's comments came before a Sept. 28 state election. His conservative Christian Social Union has long dominated Bavaria and is heavily favored, but opponents hope to deprive it of a majority in the state legislature after a lackluster start for its year-old new leadership.

Beckstein's center-left challenger, Franz Maget, said the governor had hit the brakes — "but the accident, and the write-off, has already happened."