Safety Call

Legislators should listen closely to the folks running local bars and taverns, who appear to be mainly in favor of an effort to shift last call from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. An amendment passed last week would mean all establishments serving alcohol would have to stop doing so a little earlier. According to at least one local bartender, it is a wonderful idea.

“I think 2 a.m. would be awesome,” said Bobbi Starkey, who owns Parkersburg’s Sly Fox.

In fact, there seems to be little complaint that losing an hour of business would cost these watering holes much money. Instead, the sentiment is one of benefit to public safety. Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin believes the move might cut down on fighting, as well as line up better with the department’s 3 a.m. shift changes. And, of course, such a change cannot help but affect the number of drunk drivers on the road.

“People who have already had too much to drink are coming into West Virginia and driving on our highways,” said Del. Bill Anderson, R-Wood. “For me, this was a highway safety issue, because we are a border county.”

Del. Anna Border-Sheppard, R-Wood, agreed it is a good bet those out drinking for an hour longer are even likelier to be driving drunk.

On the other side of this coin is the main bill, which would allow restaurants and destinations such as bed and breakfasts to serve alcoholic beverages as early as 10:30 a.m. as part of Sunday brunch. The trade-off for losing seven hours of alcohol sales in the wee small hours throughout the week is gaining two-and-a-half hours of sales during the brunch hours on Sundays.

Though the Sunday brunching crowd is not necessarily the same group of people who are out drinking at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, alcohol is alcohol, and establishments will need to be no less careful in monitoring their sales and customers if they gain the ability to sell mimosas on Sunday mornings. One move for the public good should not be offset by a move that is not carefully planned to maintain safety and health standards.