Do Bar Closing Times Affect DUI Rates?
We all know the old saying, or maybe the song: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” Nearly every city and/or state across the United States mandates bars close at a certain time. For instance, Georgia’s bar closing times are set by each county. However, anywhere you go in the state you’ll likely find the same closing time: 2 a.m.
Besides different areas that set these laws based on local morals, there is another perceived benefit: DUI rates. Different states and municipalities base their laws off of the belief that if they limit the amount of time residents can be out drinking in public, the less they will have to drink. In turn, it means they will be less likely to drive drunk.
But as different cities across the country lengthen — or shorten — the hours in which bars can serve alcohol, the question arises: Do closing times affect DUI rates?
It depends on whom you ask. The results are a bit mixed, and it’s hard to pinpoint whether an extended last call time is the cause for increased DUIs. A study done after a Minnesota city extended it bars’ last call time showed that the number of DUIs did increase.
However, the blood alcohol content of those pulled over did not. The only thing that did increase, besides the DUI rate, is the number of police officers on the road. That skews the results to show an increase in the number of drunk drivers, even if it wasn’t there.
The issue in Minnesota was clearly not of too much concern, as those bars in good standing were given special permits to remain open until 4 a.m. on Super Bowl weekend. No statistics have been released as to whether the number of DUIs handed out that weekend were increased.
Moreover, the number of DUI arrests before the bars closed decreased. What may be a factor, though, is the difference in closing times between cities and counties. For instance, imagine if Fulton County bars closed at 2 a.m., but Cobb County bars didn’t close until 3 a.m. There would be an increase in drinkers coming from Fulton, after which they will drive back home — increasing the number of drunk drivers.
Location, Location, Location
Different studies also looked at the different kinds of drinking venues in a given area. What they found was that areas with a greater concentration of alcohol-serving restaurants instead of bars saw more drunk drivers.
This may be due to the fact that people go to bars with the intent of drinking, while those who visit restaurants may decide they want a drink once they get there. In addition, bars were more common than restaurants in lower-income areas, where residents may not have access to vehicles.
While DUIs may not be directly affected, other actions caused by drinking can be. For instance, in Australia, a town restricted their closing call to 1:30 a.m. Patrons could still drink after that time, but no one else could enter the bars. That town saw its assault rate drop by over 30 percent. As a comparison, the next town over did not change their hours, and their assault rates remained unaffected.
Avoiding a DUI in Atlanta
No matter what time last call occurs or when you are asked to leave a bar as they shutter their doors, there are ways you can easily avoid a DUI and the need to hire an Atlanta DUI attorney, even if you’ve had too much to drink. Here are some quick ideas:
1. Get an Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft have become popular in the past few years, and people are feeling more comfortable with the thought of riding with a stranger. The good news is that Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services are just a tap away and remarkably easy to use. It can also get you home without having to worry about a DUI. Moreover, they’re often pretty cheap compared to getting a taxi.
Public transportation is another option, but one we would caution against if you are highly intoxicated and unable to maintain your manners. You don’t want to get on a bus or train and cause a disturbance, only to be kicked off and arrested anyway. While public intoxication is certainly a lesser charge than DUI, it’s still not something you want to deal with.
3. Phone a Friend
Let your friends or family know you are going out for the evening and see if anyone is willing to pick you up when you are ready to leave. Even better, ask if two people come to pick you up so one can drive you and the other can follow in your car, dropping you both off safely at home.
Consequences of a DUI
Most people think of the immediate consequences of a DUI conviction: fines, jail time, suspended licenses and court costs. What some fail to consider is the lasting impact that a DUI conviction can have on their lives. While the immediate consequences are certainly nothing to take lightly, the fact that the consequences of a DUI conviction can be so lasting should give one pause.
If you are convicted of a DUI, you may find it difficult to maintain your professional license or your employment in general. The reputation you have worked hard to develop could be tarnished and you may find your insurance rates climbing.
You may find friends and family distancing themselves from you, and you could find it difficult to be accepted to the college of your choice, should you be interested in higher education. The list goes on. The consequences of a DUI are far reaching, and can impact your life in ways that you haven’t considered.
Talk to an Atlanta DUI Attorney Today
While closing times may not affect DUIs, going out and drinking anywhere can. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta, you don’t have to face the charges alone. Contact Hawkins Spizman Kilgo today to speak with an experienced attorney about your case. Your initial consultation is free and, we will help you make the best decisions appropriate to your unique situation. Call today.