Last call for alcohol: 4 a.m.?

LANSING—Recently, legislation was introduced in the Michigan Senate that would allow some bars and night clubs to stay open until 4:30 a.m.

Senate Bill 247 would move back “last call for alcohol” by two hours to 4 a.m. for bars or night clubs that bought a special license.

“Getting behind the wheel after you have had too much to drink is never the right choice,” said Sen. Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Unfortunately, in 2011 nearly 30,000 people decided to do just that.

This led to 255 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, according to data from the Century Council.

Those in favor of the legislation contend that the late closing time would generate more revenue due to increased licensing fees and additional sales. Jones said he could not disagree more.

“My reaction was that no matter how high the fee is to keep bars open until 4:30 a.m. it is not enough,” said Jones.   “The additional problems, calls for service, and police time are not worth a little more profit for a few.  If the last call for alcohol is 4 a.m. patrons will start driving at 4:30­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ — right when early morning workers head into work.”

Jones said the casinos and the big clubs in Detroit are clamoring for the legislation because they think they can compete with Chicago.

“The Michigan Municipal League asked for even higher fees.  I asked how high?” said Jones. “Their response was: We are not sure yet but we want more money. “If this is done for Detroit then how long before every bar wants it and demands that the fees go down.  This is the ‘camel’s nose under the tent.’ Last Call at 4 a.m. is poor policy, and I will vote NO on SB 247.”

SB 247 is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.