By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – Scores of fans flooded the streets of downtown Denver and then went home when the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. They did not go into local bars because many of them were closed while partiers raged on — due to state law requiring bars to close at 2 a.m.
“I’m confused why bars close at 2 a.m. anyway,” said State Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton. “This is a relic of prohibition.”
On Wednesday a bill that would allow local governments to decide when bars are required to close passed on an 11-2 vote and appears and a fast track to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk. The bill opens the door for cities and counties to allow bars to be open 24/7 if they want.
“Local governments make best decision,” said Lebsock. “Let local city council with law enforcement and the business community make determine when bars can close.”
Fran Lanzer, state director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, opposes the bill. He says it will put more drunk drivers on the street because they will presumably be able to drive from one city where the bars are closed to another where the bars are open.
“Our concern really is we’d see cities with different bar closing times and patrons potentially making a bad choice to drive drunk,” said Lanzer.
The bill sponsors say there’s no evidence to support MADD’s claim. In fact many proponents of the bill believe extending bar hours will reduce drunk driving incidents by eliminating the bottleneck of traffic for available taxis at 2 a.m.
Supporters also believe it will give law enforcement a greater chance to catch intoxicated drivers because fewer cars will be on the road at the same time.
“There (are) no studies that show it will increase drunk driving. In fact we passed tougher drunk driving laws,” Lebsock said.
The bill now goes to a vote by the entire House of Representatives.