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California bars won’t be allowed a later “last call” time

Would a later “last call” for bars and other California establishments that serve alcohol help stagger (so to speak) the times at which people under the influence might be getting behind the wheel, resulting in fewer people emerging from these venues at 2 a.m.? (That is the latest an establishment can serve alcohol state law.) Or would it just cause people to drink longer and get more inebriated?

That’s been part of the debate around Senate Bill 58 in the past couple of years. Also known as the “Late Night Bar Bill,” it would allow a 3 a.m. last call in a number of cities here in Southern California, including Los Angeles and Palm Springs, as well as several major Northern California cities, including San Francisco.

However, the bill failed to make it out of the California legislature in the last session -- even after being amended to 3 a.m. from 4 a.m. That’s not even as far as it got last year, when it made it to former Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, only to be vetoed. At the time, Brown said, “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to two without adding two more hours of mayhem.” 

One Hollywood bar owner says the later last call time “would’ve given us a world class late nightlife like Tokyo, Vegas, and the Middle East.” He also contends that it “would’ve been a positive against drunk driving, and encouraged people to spread out the evening….”

However, one L.A. councilman says studies have found that extended bar hours lead to “a devastating increase in alcohol-related injuries, crime, death, and DUIs.” Many Southern Californians have jobs that begin before the sun comes up. That means “millions of Californians…could be within harm’s way as drunk drivers make their way into commuter traffic….”

It remains to be seen if supporters will again rework the bill in an attempt to get it passed and if Gov. Gavin Newsom would sign it if it did. However, drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are on the road at all hours of the day and night. If you or a loved one was in a crash with a driver under the influence, you may be able to take civil legal action against them, regardless of what criminal charges are filed, to seek the compensation you need and deserve.

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