4 AM Bars

23 04 2008

The State News has an editorial this week about the legislation that would allow municipalities to enact an ordiance to allow bars to stay open until 4 AM.

The point of the bill is to make money for the state and help reduce the deficit. However, the bill seems too potentially dangerous to justify the budget relief.

Currently, bars across the state are open until 2 a.m. In that time, bar crawlers are able to thoroughly indulge in their desired alcohol-driven activities. By the time the bar closes, many patrons stumble home, drunk and tired.

What happens if bar hours are extended for two extra hours?

More alcohol is consumed, and at 4 a.m. patrons who are even more drunk and tired will pour into the streets, off to their next destination.

The potential for alcohol-related incidents including drunken driving and public intoxication likely would increase.

*Sigh*  Another un-informed opinion.   I know State News is a college paper, but give me some proof to back that up.  For five years, I lived in Peoria, IL where they have a 4 AM district.  Guess what?  There aren’t a ridiculous number of DUI’s or accidents.  There aren’t people in the street fighting at 4:05 because they’re intoxicated.  Peoria is home to Bradley University so it’s not like there are no kids running around Main Street.   It just takes some planning on the city’s part.  I wouldn’t be in favor of a state-wide 4 AM license, but done responsibily, extending liquor license’s can be a benefit to the communities and the state as a whole. 

Let’s not try to pretend that alcohol is the root of all evil.  There’s a reason prohibition failed.  Alcohol sales provide a good portion of any cities revenue through license fees and sales tax.  Not everyone who drinks a beer does so irresponsibly.  I already said I’m not in favor of a state-wide 4 AM license, but I am in favor of 4 AM districts similar to the one in Peoria.  The State News article makes the same point in it’s article.

However, such legislation could be effective in stimulating areas such as downtown Detroit where casinos and other nightlife are prevalent.

But in the very next sentence, they go back to blaming all of the world’s problems on college students.

In more metropolitan areas such as Detroit and Grand Rapids, where the majority of residents are working adults and not active students, the bill could provide a positive social and economic stimulus.

An extended license in a downtown district in any city in Michigan can be a good thing.  East Lansing is no different.  Yes, it’s probably true that business downtown would spike after 2 AM, but that also gives East Lansing Police a chance to regroup and redeploy themselves downtown.  It IS the PD’s job to keep the peace.  Drinking and hanging out at the bars are part of life and a whether you think it’s a good thing or not, it is a big part of college life.  Every one of those police officers know when they take a job in East Lansing that most of their time is going to be spent trying to control rowdy college kids.  Every resident who moves into East Lansing should also know that is where a majority of their tax dollars will go too.

Back to Peoria.  The 4 AM zone is only in Downtown and it doesn’t even cover every bar.  There are boundries set up that have been under question for a few years, but the Council has been very tough when it comes to changing.  The zone is set.  The police chief is in favor of it and realizes the benefits to the 4 AM zone.  At 3:00 they reposition police officers to the Main Street area.  The taxi services know to be downtown starting around then too.  In all my years in Peoria and working in news, I only know of one or two instances of problems when the bars closed and both of those instances where at the same bar.

Michigan has a unique opportunity here with HB4573 to improve the quality of life in it’s urban areas as well as take advantage of a huge funding source.  Business wishing to stay open to 4 AM would be charged an extra $1000 on top of the license fee.  The bill stalled in the house on Oct. 3 of last year when Rep. SteveTobocman moved for temporary postponement on the third reading. 


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3 responses

23 04 2008
Mike Harmon

I came across your blog on Technorati. Nice site layout. I will stop by and read more soon.

Mike Harmon

23 04 2008
police » Blog Archive » 4 AM Bars

[…] Brett Loves Robots wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAn extended license in a downtown district in any city in Michigan can be a good thing. East Lansing is no different. Yes, it’s probably true that business downtown would spike after 2 AM, but that also gives East Lansing Police a … […]

29 04 2008
4 AM Bars Update « Mid-Michigan Dining

[…] AM Bars Update 29 04 2008 A few weeks ago, I wrote about legislation currently stalled in the House of Representatives that would give cities/towns/villages, etc the […]

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