Longer Bar Hours in Denver Could Lead to an Increase in Drunk Driving Crashes
For anyone who has been in Downtown Denver past 2:00 in the morning, you know how hectic it can be when the bars close and everyone begins streaming out onto the downtown sidewalks. With every bar-goer in the city moving to the street at the same time, it is fairly easy to understand why our local police report a frequent spike in violence during this time period. This issue is exactly what Colorado House Bill 1132 has attempted to solve – however, organizations like Mothers AgainstDrunk Driving (MADD), and a retired Colorado State Patrol officer are speaking out against the bill as they believe it will cause an increase in the number of drunk drivers on the road and will pull from the already-tight law enforcement budget.
“This bill is a risk for our state,” notes Colorado State Patrol Col. (Retired) Mark Trostel. “At a time when law enforcement budgets are already stretched thin, putting an increased burden on the troopers and officers who keep our roads safe is dangerous and irresponsible.”
In the original draft, House Bill 1132 would have allowed bars to stay open until 7:00 am, and would also allow each city to create their own regulations about when bars and restaurants can serve alcohol. While the bill was quickly amended to only allow bars to stay open until 4:30 am, it still leaves room for each city to make their own rules for “last-call”, and also clarifies that cities are not to establish regulations limiting the sale of alcohol prior to 2:00 am.
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), along with many individuals in the Denver Metro community, has expressed opposition to House Bill 1132, as they believe it will cause an increase in the number of drunk and dangerous drivers on the road in the early morning hours. Allowing the cities to choose their own serving times might encourage partiers to drive from city to city as each cut-off time passes.
“Passage of this bill could have far-reaching public safety implications for the entire state,” adds Fran Lanzer, Colorado State Executive Director for MADD.
“As one of the largest victim services organizations in the country, we see the devastating effects of drunk and drugged driving. In Colorado, MADD works with hundreds of families and individuals who have had a loved one taken from them or suffered life-altering injuries because of drunk driving crashes.”
As the hours between midnight and 4:00 am are already among the most dangerous times to drive, many are concerned that the passing of HB 1132 will only work to extend those hours and cause more drunk driving crashes, especially while early morning commuters begin their drive to work. In addition to drivers leaving the bars at 4:30 am, longer serving hours could also increase the number of “next-day” DUIs, the result of bar-goers driving the next day without allowing enough time to get sober.
In Colorado alone there were 133 drunk-driving fatalities in 2012, accounting for 28% of all traffic deaths. While this is a decrease from 2011, MADD, along with other organizations and individuals opposing Colorado HB1132, believes that the longer hours may cause this number to spike again, damaging years of advocacy work to make the roads safer for everyone.
If your or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver, contact the Denver car accident attorneys at the Bendinelli Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation. We have the understanding, knowledge, and experience necessary for these complex drunk driving cases. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation – with offices conveniently located in the Denver Metro area and Westminster, we’ll help you get the help you need.