Entries in Bars (2)


Alaska Cops Arresting Drunks in Bars

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Cops in Alaska have started enforcing a statute that makes it illegal to be drunk in a bar, and have been sending plainclothes officers into bars to identify and arrest suspects.

"It's fairly logical, but it does sound fairly comical at the outset," Anchorage Police Department Lt. Dave Parker told ABC News. "Alaska has a huge, huge alcohol problem. Most people in jail, whatever they did, their decision-making process was affected by alcohol."

"There are three problems in Alaska: alcohol, alcohol and alcohol," Parker said.

Though the law prohibiting a drunken person from being on licensed premises has been in existence for years, it is only in the past month that police have been aggressively enforcing it.

Plainclothes police officers enter bars and look for people who are what they call "drunk-plus."

"We're not dealing with a person who's simply mildly intoxicated or out having a good time. We're dealing with people who are so intoxicated that they can't care for themselves," Parker said. "The bartender or person selling is making money off of them and they either become the victim or the perpetrator of a crime."

If the plainclothes officers spot someone excessively intoxicated -- falling off their barstool, vomiting or engaging in overly rowdy behavior, for example -- they call in uniformed officers to make an arrest. After the sobering experience of being arrested, the suspects are cited and then released.

After checking 26 Anchorage bars recently, four had employees that were out of compliance and 19 "highly intoxicated" patrons were cited.

Alaska rates number one in the United States in sexual assault reports per capita, Parker said. In about 86 percent of those assaults, alcohol is a factor. In Anchorage, a town of roughly 270,000 people, almost one percent of the population is arrested every year for driving while intoxicated.

Parker said that it is too soon to tell whether the strategy is working to reduce other crimes.

"It's a little early to tell, but we anticipate it will," he said. "Anytime we start aggressively enforcing alcohol laws, we see a reduction in crime. People are being more responsible because they know they can get in trouble."

Bar owners have mixed feeling about the police action.

Darwin Biwer is the owner of downtown Anchorage bar Darwin's Theory. He is also the board chairman of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailer's Association.

"None of us bar owners have a problem with the police coming through. We've encouraged that for years," Biwer said. "But you can't tell me the cops know better who's drunk on premises [than we do]."

Alaska requires servers to be trained to recognize people who have too much to drink and stop serving them. Under the law, servers and bartenders can also be arrested and cited for over-serving.

While most states have laws against over-serving and public intoxication, Parker said he did not know of any other states that enforced sobriety rules inside bars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ohio Bars Open Doors to Gun Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The signs outside Shooters Bar and Grill in Galion, Ohio, are clear, albeit ironic: “No weapons allowed.”

Owner Vicki Bash says that won’t change as Ohio’s controversial new gun law takes effect Friday. It allows people licensed to carry concealed weapons to take them into taverns, hotels, restaurants and other places where liquor is served.  But those carrying guns are not allowed to drink.  And taverns, such as Shooters, can still keep weapons out as long as they post signs banning them.

“People aren’t supposed to drink and drive either,” Bash said. “But they do.”

She worries that bartenders have no way of knowing who is carrying a weapon so they must rely entirely on customers’ following the law. “I’m not against guns,” Bash said, but “alcohol creates stupidity.”

But other bars, including the Crazy Fox in Bucyrus, Ohio, don’t have a problem with concealed weapons as long as their owners don’t drink. The law passed despite objections from the Ohio Restaurant Association, which represents more than 5,000 mostly independent establishments.

“Alcohol and guns are typically not a good mix,” association spokesman Jarrad Clabaugh said.

Ohio is the latest state to allow gun owners to take their concealed weapons into bars. In Tennessee, which passed a similar law last year, Nikki Goeser has been a strong advocate, saying, “You know what, we need to be protected because the bad guys are going to carry their guns.”

In 2009, before Tennessee passed its new law, her husband, Ben, was shot and killed inside a Nashville tavern. “I had to leave my legal, permitted weapon locked in my vehicle that night,” she said. "And I’ll probably wonder for the rest of my life if I could have saved Ben.”

But many bartenders and waitresses are wary of the new law. "After a couple of drinks, they get their beer muscles and start swinging fists,” Nashville cocktail waitress Jessi Morrow said, adding that she fears guns add more danger to such volatile situations.

Waiter Chris Reeves isn’t comforted by the law’s prohibition against drinking by gun-toters. “Maybe he’s not drinking. But another guy has had several and has an attitude.” he said. “You could have multiple shots scattered in a matter of seconds.”

In Tennessee, Ray Friedman, who opposes guns in bars and restaurants, publishes a website listing which establishments ban them. “It’s tough for restaurants to be put in that position, but in fact they do have to make a choice,” he said.

But gun advocate Goeser said she is safer in a bar or restaurant, knowing her .38 Smith & Wesson Special is tucked into a hidden sleeve of her purse.  “Do I feel like I could stop someone from hurting innocent people?” she asked. “I think so.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio