Last Call 4 A.M.? Late Alcohol Service Proposed - KMSP-TV

Last Call 4 A.M.? Late Alcohol Service Proposed

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Los Angeles, CA -

Last call at California restaurants, bars and nightclubs could come later under legislation proposed by a state senator from San Francisco.

Sen. Mark Leno's bill would allow cities and counties to petition state alcohol regulators to allow alcohol service until 4 a.m., a move that could provide an economic boost but also bring with it an increase in alcohol-related crime.

"It'd be an amazing idea," said Chase Irwin, the general manager of American Junkie, a bar in Hermosa Beach.  "We're going to create more revenue and more jobs to staff those long hours."

Leno, a Democrat, said his bill would make California cities more competitive as tourist destinations with cities that allow alcohol service past 2 a.m.

Proponents of the bill point to job creation as well as increased income and sales tax revenue from both residents and tourists.

But there will no doubt be vocal opposition to a 4 a.m. last call with public safety as a top concern.

Studies suggest extending bar hours could result in increased drunk driving and other alcohol-related crimes, especially violent crimes like fighting.

It's why opponents of such a bill could argue that any financial gain might be offset by the cost of having public safety officers working longer hours, with much of it presumably being paid out as overtime hours.

"It's a terrible idea," said Howard Fishman, a long-time Hermosa Beach resident.  "As a result of the drinking you have a lot of issues with police and arrests.  City budgets will be so taxed by the increased patrols.  The money can be better spent in the community."

Leno says he expects opposition based on public safety concerns, but he has not seen evidence that later alcohol service leads to increased alcohol-related traffic deaths.

But a 2009 Eastern Illinois University report suggests extending last call times, no matter what the hour, has resulted in more alcohol-related accidents, more violent crimes and more noise complaints in other major metropolitan areas.

Citing numerous other studies done on the topic, the EIU report examined what happened when different types of communities extended bar hours.

"In Britain, 24-hour liquor licensing laws introduced in 2005 were hoped to reduce violence by ending the practice by patrons of drinking quickly in order to finish their drinks before the 11 p.m. closing," the report states. "These laws have led to an increase in violence and the number of deaths in the early morning hours."

Domestically the study showed an increase in drunk driving and alcohol-related crimes in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. and Minneapolis, Minn. while also showing similar results internationally as the study included Ontario, Canada, Reykjavik, Iceland and areas of western Australia.

READ THE STUDY HERE (PDF File)

James Koh

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