Underage Drinking Ordinance Meets Resistance
A proposal aimed to discourage bars from selling drinks to underage customers is meeting resistance, and not all opponents are under 21. Opponents to the measure protested in front of city hall before a vote on the issue by the City Commission.
Bar owners, underage students and even members of UF's student government spoke out against the ordinance tonight which would stop people under 21 from going to bars at 9:00 PM if those bars get too many underage drinking citations.
Joey Friedman was among the protesters in front of city hall today to oppose the underage drinking ordinance. He says that even though he's over 21 it would affect a number of his underage friends. "We can't hang out with our friends anymore if they're not allowed into venues," he said.
Inside the commission meeting the ordinance was a hot topic on the night's agenda. Despite the protests, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of approving the ordinance.
People protesting the ordinance say if students can't drink in bars it still won't stop underage drinking. They say those people would go house parties instead which could to lead to increased drunken driving incidents
Commissioners say they're hoping a new ordinance will scare bar owners into monitoring underage customers. GPD says underage drinking has been a big problem. In 2007 there were over 1,000 charges and some bars are repeat offenders with some locations averaging three or four incidents a week.
The ordinance would affect only bars that get too many underage drinking citations. Supporters claim that the number of offending bars is relatively small.
If the ordinance passes, bars that hold fewer than 201 people can only get five violations per quarter. Bars that hold more can have up to ten.
Commissioners will vote for the final time on the ordinance on February 5th. If it passes it could take effect immediately.
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