State Senator Mark Leno's proposal to allow cities and counties in California to extend drinking hours until 4 a.m. was effectively cut off by a bunch of buzzkills in a state Senate committee yesterday.
Opponents of Leno's intoxicating idea effectively convinced lawmakers that the proposal would create what they called "liquor commuters" — boozehounds who are willing to drive across county lines to drink in bars for an extra two hours and would thus be driving home with higher BACs than if they just stayed at their neighborhood Chili's for margaritas. Or as one spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Association put it: "People driving to those other locations and then after having consumed many times a substantial amount of alcohol, driving back."
The wet blankets at Alcohol Justice, an industry watchdog that has launched a "Stop Leno's 4 a.m. Bar Bill," also applauded the Senate Governmental Organization Committee for cutting off Leno's SB 635. "A decisive majority of the committee agreed that law enforcement in California would see more drunk driving deaths and more alcohol-related homicides if Leno's bar bill passed," Alcohol Justice's Advocacy Director Jorge Castillo explained in a press release. "There was also acknowledgement that a 4 a.m. last call would result in inebriated drivers hitting the road during early morning commute hours."
There's no word yet on whether anyone in the Assembly will take up the cause, but there is hope that California could rally for a 4 a.m. last call: Supporters of the proposal are already mulling a ballot measure that would let the rest of the state vote on the matter. Sadly, that won't come around until 2016 at the earliest.