Laramie council rejects limits on late-night drink specials

By Jordan Achs

Laramie Boomerang

Via Wyoming News Exchange

LARAMIE — Although some research shows late-night drinking can correlate to an increase in alcohol-related consequences, many on the Laramie City Council were hesitant to approve a measure that would limit a bar's or restaurant’s ability to offer late-night drink specials.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Council considered which of the eight recommendations put forth by the Ad Hoc Alcohol Committee in March it wanted to pursue.

Councilwoman Jessica Stalder moved to strike one measure that would prohibit drink specials after 10 p.m., saying she didn’t think it was “the City Council’s place to tell private business owners when they can and cannot offer specials.”

“That might be best practice, and something that could maybe be addressed at the tavern owner meetings instead,” Jessica Stalder said.

Although he disagreed with Jessica Stalder about Council’s authority to regulate businesses — especially businesses granted licenses from the city — Councilman Paul Weaver said he also was against the measure.

“What I have a problem with is this is still kind of a personal behavior regulation effort on behalf of city, and that’s where I think we get into choppy water,” Weaver said. “People can decide to responsibly purchase late-night drink specials or fail to do so and then end up in trouble.”

One of the few supportive of the measure, Councilwoman Erin O’Doherty said she wanted to include it to help prevent overserving, since there is not yet a law preventing it in Wyoming.

When asked if he thought restricting the late-night drink specials would help, Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder pointed out people can find creative ways around any restriction. He gave an example of a restaurant creating late-night food specials to offset the full-priced drinks.

The amendment to remove the recommendation passed 7-2, with O’Doherty and Vice Mayor Pat Gabriel voting against it.

Additionally, O’Doherty moved to strike a recommendation that would increase the fines given to underage drinkers trying to use false identification.

“My understanding from our [city] attorney and from Chief Stalder is that those fines are kind of set by statute, and I don’t think we should be going there,” O’Doherty said. “I also feel like a $230 fine is a lot of money for someone 18-21 years old already.”

She added the judge can use discretion to increase fines for repeat offenders, so it isn’t “something the Council has to address.”

The amendment passed unanimously.

The six remaining recommendations — including implementing a voluntary ID scanner pilot program, requiring licensees to attend two tavern meetings per year, increasing public education on “providing a dwelling” for underage drinkers, reviewing alcohol serving training requirements, increasing Laramie Police Department’s compliance checks and reinstating the ad hoc committee in two years to track progress — were approved unanimously by the Council during Tuesday’s meeting.