Drink up, Colorado: Bill could do away with ‘last call’

Colorado bar patrons will be allowed to order a Tequila Sunrise to watch the actual sunrise under a new bill that would to extend serving hours for alcohol to as late (or early) as 7 a.m.

The bill, proposed by Democratic state Rep. Crisanta Duran, is an attempt to curb trouble that results when bars empty all at once after the 2 a.m. last call. Denver’s Lower Downtown, with a high density of bars and restaurants, is a particular trouble area, having been the site of shootings and assaults after closing time.

“At that closing hour, that is when you see so many people on the streets,” Duran told Denver’s 9News. “A lot of fights break out, even shootings have occurred.”

Under her proposal, in which local governments could give bars greater leeway to establish their own last-call hours, she hopes patrons will head home throughout the evening and early morning, not in one huge pack.

“People naturally leave throughout the evening,” she said. “You don’t want hundreds of people push out onto the street at one time, which is typically the time when we’ve seen a lot of fights in Denver.”

If passed, Colorado would join the likes of Alaska and New York in allowing bars to stay open later than in most other places in the country. Currently, Colorado prevents alcohol from being served between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. Under the proposed law, local governments could theoretically allow bars to remain open for 24 hours.

That has some concerned that drunk drivers will become a problem in the early morning hours, or that some communities that extend last call will become magnets for drunks.

“It’s well known that driving the highways around 2 a.m. can be perilous,” wrote the Denver Post in an editorial opposing the bill. “But should we now have to worry about the morning commute as well?”

Duran told 9News that she expected bar owners to take a conservative approach should the bill pass, extending drinking hours only until 4 or 5 a.m.

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