Biggest Threat to Mayor’s Plan for Longer Bar Hours: Increased Drunk Driving

Comments

1
How unexpected.
2
Extend bar hours only for establishments without parking lots (free, validated, or paid). So, no, it wouldn't work in Kirkland.
3
What people should be asking is whether or not the 2am pushout encourages drunk driving. I'd contend it does. Here are the ways:

1. The 2am pushout encourages binge drinking. When someone slams a couple of shots, the liquor takes some time to take full effect. In that time the person will be pushed out of the bar, and will be behind the wheel of their car before they realize the effect of the liquor. By then, it's too late.

2. If the person leaving a bar is buzzed, legally too drunk to drive, but not showing many signs of drunkeness, and they go out to get a cab at 2am, due to the massive number of people looking for cabs at once they will have a difficult time, giving them some incentive to drive drunk instead.

This is the current scenario. So if we do away with the 2am pushout, then we do away with these causes of drunken driving.

additionally, by doing away with the pushout, there will be less people driving at the same time at 2am, resulting in more police monitoring the driving of fewer people. This too should help.

In places where liquor service hours have been extended, these is not evidence of an increase in violence or drunken driving, and there are many indications of the opposite being true.

Extending service hours by itself isn't a cure all, but it is an important piece of solving the problems around nightlife. Add to it the other 7 parts of the Mayor's initiative and we're going to go a long way towards making nightlife better and safer.
4
As much as I'm for a later last call, the DUI thing is a totally reasonable concern. I can't think of a city that stands as a later-than-its-neighbors last call outpost to really compare Seattle to. Albany? Buffalo? I wonder what DUI rates are there comparatively?

Of course, people drive home drunk in Kirkland too, they just do it at 9pm.
5
Shirtless pics of Toby from Washington Bus or it didn't happen ...

I suggest that we infill the revenue lost from Tim Eyman's initiative to stop red light traffic light tickets with DUI busts of drunk drivers at ... say ... $2500 fine plus $50 for each passenger.

you can always take the bus - or walk.
6
Dave, those are very similar points to ones I made to Rathburn after the meeting, and which I felt you iterated more precisely than did my earlier question on the subject.

And I agree, staggering service hours isn't the solution, per se, if only because it gives some establishments an unfair economic advantage, not to mention that it simply creates a new problem in that people in inevitably attempt to travel from an early closing location to a later closing one.

What I suggested to Rathburn was that the WSLCB simply grant a blanket license for establishments to remain open for as long as they choose, while keeping the cut-off time for alcohol sales - but NOT consumption - to 2:00 a.m., as it is currently. That IMO would minimize to a great extent the negative effects of "last call binging", since people wouldn't have to guzzle their drinks in order to beat the staff pulling glasses. They could sit, with the drink(s) they ordered before 2:00 a.m. for as long as the place stays open, which means the outflow is going to get spread out over a longer period of time, and people are going to have the opportunity to either sober up, or at the very least not get super drunk as quickly, before venturing out.

His concern was that it would be difficult to enforce the cut-off, because, how would you know when that drink someone is nursing at 2:30 a.m. was actually served? But, I think that's actually a very minor issue, and easily dealt with using modern technology: practically every receipt I get for purchases these days has not only the date but the TIME of purchase. All that needs to be done is to check an establishment's register receipts, and if it shows any alcohol sales after 2:00 a.m., then fine them for serving after hours.
7
@5:

Will, that was actually one of the major points brought up last night: many folks in fact CANNOT "take the bus or walk" from where ever they are at 2:00 a.m., because: A.) there's no freaking bus service, either from where their coming or to where they're going, and B.) walking seven or eight (or 20 or 30) miles is simply impractical. And as one unfortunate person noted, sometimes even a cab isn't an option, because, if you live too far away (say, beyond the currently mandated restricted city/county service boundaries), the cabbie is likely to dump your ass back onto the street after a couple of blocks because he'll calculate the trip as a net loss and decide it's not worth the fare.

Addressing alternative transportation options is going to have to be major component, if this initiative is going to get any traction from the community, and I believe Mayor McGinn acceded that point last night.
8
@7 yes, but with the ever shrinking County and City budgets due to the bad decision by the Governor to build the Billionaires Tunnel and have Seattle pay for it, there will be TRANSIT CUTS not increases.

Just saying.

Get used to finding drunks sleeping on your front porch and under your bushes, everyone, cause you're going to see a lot more of that.
9
With all the talk I've heard about the possibility of extending the 2am cutoff, I've never heard anyone explain why we have it in the first place. If we allow a business to sell alcohol at 1:30, and we allow it to sell a few hours later at 6:30, what's wrong with letting it sell at 3:00? Would it really be such a big deal for people to learn to leave a bar whenever it makes sense to leave instead of waiting for a government-imposed closing time?
10
Comte - the initiative already has major traction from the community - in fact, the extended service hour component is getting a 75%-80% positive response from people responding to the Mayor's poll and the Seattle Times poll. And there is no organized vocal opposition to the idea.The SPD, City Attorney, City Council and Mayor all support it.

The transportation part is important, but the solutions will be longer term than the rest of the initiative.

In other places with extended or no closing times, there has not been an increase in drunk driving accidents or violence. Even within cities like Miami where a certain zone is allowed to stay open 24 hours there has not been a problem with drunk driving accidents increasing (though I generally don't like Miami's solution).

Places that have extended service hours include:

Australia - In New South Wales, there is no specified closing time. Non-residential bars can be open 24 hours.

Belgium - There is no legally mandated last call in Belgium; many bars will stay open all night.

Vancouver BC,. - Last call is 2:00 a.m. provincially, however municipalities can raise last call up to 4 a.m. if they so choose. Downtown Vancouver's last call was moved to 4:00 a.m. but was subsequently lowered to 3 a.m. People may purchase "off sales" bottled beer and the like from local Pubs until 11:00 p.m.

London/ all of the UK - From late 2005, drinking establishments could apply for licences to stay open and serve alcohol for 24 hours a day.

US City specific laws

• Albany, New York - 4 a.m.
• Atlanta - 2:30 a.m.; 4:00 a.m. in Underground Atlanta.
• Atlantic City, New Jersey - 24 hours
• Bloomington, Indiana - 3 a.m.
• Buffalo - 4 a.m.
• Chicago - Some bars may choose to close at 2 a.m. or earlier. They may alternately get an extension which allows them to close at 4 a.m. or earlier. On Saturdays, closing times are shifted an hour back to 3 and 5 a.m.
• Cleveland - 2:30 a.m.
• Columbus - 2:30 a.m.
• Florence, South Carolina - 2 a.m. for hard liquor, 3 a.m. for beer.
• Granite City, Illinois - Weeknights 2 a.m. Weekends 3 a.m.
• Indianapolis - 3 a.m.
• Kansas City, Missouri - 1:30 a.m. for most bars, 3:00 a.m. for specially licensed bars in certain geographic areas. 6:00 a.m. for one bar only, the Mutual Musicians Foundation.
• Las Vegas, Nevada - Bars may stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• Lexington, Kentucky - 2:30 a.m.
• Louisville - 4 a.m.
• Miami - 5 a.m.; Bars may stay open 24 hours, 7 days a week in the Downtown Entertainment District
• New Orleans - Bars may stay open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
• New York City - 4 a.m.
• Pensacola, Florida - 3 a.m.
• Peoria - 4 a.m.
• Savannah, Georgia - 3 a.m.
• St. Louis - 2 a.m. on Weeknights, 3 a.m. on Weekends
• Tampa - 3 a.m.
• Tuscaloosa, Alabama - 2 a.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday. Close at 3 a.m. on Friday nights.
• Washington, D.C. - 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night, 2:00 a.m. other nights.

These cities have later closing times than their neighbors. They have not seen significantly higher drunk driving accidents resulting from their later closing times.

11
True Dave, but I think the sentiment in the room last night, particularly from bar patrons (as opposed to bar owners although I doubt there's any significant difference of opinion between the two groups) was pretty adamant on the point that more alternatives than just buses (which as Will correctly points out above, and as was noted last night as well, are probably going to be the least effective component in a multi-tiered approach) or cabs is crucial to the overall success of the initiative. Kimerer was quite specific on that point when he stated that SPD would oppose anything they believed had the potential to increase either the number of people driving drunk or the window in which they were driving. So, it's pretty clear that NOT dealing effectively with the transportation component could be a potential deal-breaker for several constituencies, particularly SPD and probably the City Attorney's Office as well.

That being said, I thought several good ideas for alternative transpo were brought up: jitneys, limited route buses, smaller coaches with flexible routes, etc., etc., but at the same time, McGinn admitted that issues such as increasing the number of taxi licenses, breaking down the geographic restrictions, and even the cab lobby itself were going to be perhaps the most difficult things to work out, even more so than dealing with WSLCB, if I heard him correctly.
12
I personally don't think that the initiative to keep bars open later will add more drunk drivers on the road. I think if anything, it will remove the amount of drunk drivers that are on the road at any one particular time.

I do think that if this happens, we will see an increase in DUI arrests. No matter how many police are dispatched at 2AM, there are guaranteed to be some drunk drivers who slip through the cracks due to police officers being tangled up with other DUI arrests. Having the closing times staggered will allow for the police to have more opportunity to punish those who make the bad decision to drive home drunk.
13
Hey, I have an idea! Why not bring back hayrides?
14
Sometimes, the WSLCB and their apologists act as if Washington state's byzantine liquor laws are the law of All The World. No one else has ever experimented with less state control. Or if they have, society immediately crumbled, with infants being force-fed booze in their bottles and bus drivers on every route hammered into oblivion.

It's as if some of them had never left Washington state, never seen a place where adults are presumed to be able to moderate their own consumption.
15
glad to see Mike McConnell there representing the drunk drivers
16
oh nevermind didnt read caption sorry mike arrrrrr
17

With all the overpriced and unavailable parking, no drunk is going to hightail it to Seattle after his favorite watering hole in Issaquah shuts down.

Most likely he'll have stocked up at home from Costco.
18
You know, if we had some sort of rapid transit going through downtown, all we'd need to do is make it run 24 hours.
19
The current law seems as if it was written to cause trouble. There seems to be a hundred things the state could do to improve the situation without spending a dime:

1. Let the bars serve all night. People will drink if the want to drink. Bingeing is bad. Overloading police is bad. Long waits for taxis are bad.
2. Require bars to make water freely available and easy to find.
3. Require bars to stay open for one hour after they've served their last drink.
4. Relax the street-food laws. Food is the drunks best friend.