Put California’s 4 a.m. Bar Bill to Bed

Dangerous Bill’s Health Hazards Hidden Behind Empty Rhetoric

drunk people on the streetMost doctors will tell you it’s never too early to stop drinking. According to California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), however, it’s never too late to keep drinking. Wiener has introduced a bill to the state senate allowing bars and nightclubs to continue serving alcohol until 4 a.m. Wiener claims the bill (SB 384) will promote tourism and generate additional income. However, existing research suggests the extra costs—in law enforcement, health and safety, and quality of life—will far outweigh any tax revenues.

Health research and common sense both suggest that later alcohol service is linked to greater alcohol-related violence, traffic incidents, and emergency room visits. This both costs money and strains emergency services, forcing both law enforcement and medical staffs to operate at higher capacities around the clock. Proponents of the bill contend the bill emphasizes “local control,” but residents of alcohol-outlet dense neighborhood will be disproportionately impacted while any revenue benefits flow up into state coffers or into the pockets of the nightlife industry. Moreover, none of those profits are earmarked for programs to counteract the harm caused by extended drinking. This gap is exacerbated by a law passed by voters in 2010 that makes it effectively impossible for local jurisdictions to generate those funds through charge-for-harm strategies—a bit of bitter irony that local control advocates conveniently ignore.

This is the second go-around for a late-night bar bill. A similar version of was introduced in 2013 by Mark Leno, and defeated thanks to the efforts of community groups and health advocates. “Nothing has changed since 2013,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO of Alcohol Justice. “A bill to allow the sale of alcohol until 4 a.m. will create dangerous new public policy that threatens health and safety throughout California.”

California already bears a higher burden from alcohol-related harm than any other state, including 10,572 dates, 17,700 hospitalizations, and tens of billions of dollars of costs to government and the public. Moreover, researchers are only scratching the surface of the long-term health effects of alcohol. “We just don’t need additional hours of business for this substance,” Alcohol Justice Director of Public Affairs Michael Scippa told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not like selling coffee and doughnuts. This is a substance which is a class one carcinogen.”

Extended bar hours have a proven potential to create lasting damage to individuals and communities, and offer few benefits to average Californians. Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance strongly oppose SB 384. Put this dangerous bill to bed.

READ MORE about Alcohol Justice and CAPA’s opposition.

LISTEN to Alcohol Justice Executive Director/CEO Bruce Lee Livingston present his opposition on KQED.

WATCH CAPA's video giving the truth on this unsafe, unhealthy bill.

TAKE ACTION to urge your elected representatives to stop SB 384.