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Last call DUIs target of West Virginia legislation

Last call DUIs target of West Virginia legislation

West Virginia law currently allows liquor establishments to hold last call until 3 in the morning. According to some lawmakers, this closing time is one hour too late, contributing to more incidents involving an intoxicated driver.

It is not just the hour that some lawmakers claim is the problem, but also the fact that this cut off time is one hour later than those of neighboring jurisdictions. This difference of one hour is cited as the reason why West Virginia state police notice a larger percentage of DUI arrests involving out-of-state drivers between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m.

In order to cut down on these incidents, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that, if enacted, would stop bar sales in the state at 2 a.m. “This will at least close that gap” between West Virginia and neighboring jurisdictions, said Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley.

Others disagree with the one-hour change to the law. Del. Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley said that the change would result in a $9 million loss to the state. The problem is that closing the bar an hour early also means shortening the time patrons would spend on gaming machines that are found in these clubs and bars.

Enactment of the bill would reduce the time at which bars must cease liquor sales, but it would increase the time for sales on Sunday. Instead of opening sales at 1 p.m., establishments would be allowed to serve or sell liquor as early as 10:30 a.m.

Regardless of what time a drunk driving arrest is made, the penalties are equally serious for the driver. Facing these types of charges without adequate representation from the start could lead to undesirable or even unnecessary results.

Source: Herald-Mail Media, “Bill would shift hours for serving alcohol at W. Va. bars and clubs,” Matthew Umstead, Feb. 18, 2014

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