Lawmakers in California are currently considering changing the rules on drinking hours in bars, restaurants and night clubs. The bill addressing this issue, SB 635, was authored by San Francisco Democratic Senator Mark Leno. It would extend the drinking hours, which currently end at 2:00 a.m., to last until 4:00 a.m.
Our Los Angeles drunk driving accident lawyers know that there are thousands of people killed or injured each year as a result of drunk driving. Extending the drinking hours is not only likely to exacerbate the dangers of drunk driving but may also cause additional accidents by increasing the risk of drowsy driving as well.
New Bar Bill Could Put Everyone at Risk
While some argue that the longer drinking hours would be a good thing for restaurants and clubs, there are many others who have spoken out against the change in the law who believe that it would be more dangerous.
For example, according to the Sacramento Bee, a Los Angeles City Councilmember who is a former Los Angeles Police Chief spoke out about the safety concerns. The Councilmember indicated that it would be dangerous and unhealthy to allow bars to be open for 22 out of 24 hours of the day and that these extended hours could increase concerns about alcoholism and binge drinking.
The longer serving time could also give more people more time than they already have to get drunk. At a rally against the law, for example, one speaker indicated that many people are already buzzed by 2:00 a.m. if they are out drinking. The speaker said that serving these people more alcohol for another two hours "can only be called a crazy and stupid idea."
The California Police Chiefs Association has also come out against the bill, expressing many potential problems that could be unintended consequences of its passage. One issue the Association raised was that drinkers might be prompted to drive from areas where bars close earlier to areas where bars are open later, thus increasing the number of potential drunk drivers.
Another potential unintended consequence pointed out by the California Police Chiefs Association is that late-night drinkers and party-goers might end up sharing the roads with early morning commuters, who would thus be at greater risk of getting hurt in a drunk driving accident.
The U.S. Community Prevention Services Task Force gave some specific stats on what the likely impact might be if the bill passes. The Task Force indicated that an additional two hours of alcohol sales would result in alcohol-related violence, crime, police calls and emergency room visits nearly doubling.
Finally, because alcohol is a depressant, it can also cause fatigue and create not just a drunk driving risk but also a drowsy driving risk as well. Allowing more people time to drink for longer and stay up later thus creates a very dangerous combination that could result in many accidents occurring.
With all of these solid arguments against it, lawmakers should clearly think twice about extending the drinking hours and putting everyone at greater risk of being hurt in a drunk driving crash.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.
L.A. Drunk Driving Accidents & the BAC Limit, California Injury Lawyers Blog , April 4, 2013.
Los Angeles Traffic Safety: April is Distracted Driving Month, California Injury lawyers Blog, March 31, 2013.