Happy hour legislation to help curb abuse, DUIs

By Bill Schwingel

Retail licenses will be revoked if taverns do not obey the recently signed legislation prohibiting happy hours in Illinois.

“The governor’s action recognizes that happy hours and other drink promotions encourage people to drink too much alcohol, too fast, which can lead to increased cases of driving under the influence,” said James Long, executive director of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

“This reaffirms Illinois’ national reputation as a leader in preventing DUI and alcohol abuse,” Long said.

The law forces establishments with retail licenses to have a schedule of the prices of alcoholic drinks.

Also, hotels or businesses with more than one facility selling alcohol must have separate price lists at each facility.

No one who has a retail license or is an employee of the licensee may serve more than one alcoholic drink at one time to one person for that person’s consumption unless selling bottles or carafes of wine.

Serving, selling or offering to sell an unlimited amount of liquor to an individual during a specific time for a specific price also is prohibited, according to the amendment. This does not include private functions such as wedding receptions.

The law also makes it illegal to reduce prices on certain days for a pre-set group of people used to promote the consumption of alcoholic drinks.

Retail licensees may not increase the alcohol content in a drink or increase the amount of the drink without raising the price proportionately, according to the law.

Games or contests including the consumption of alcoholic drinks and alcohol used as prizes also is not permitted. The promotion of the prohibited actions is illegal as well.

The law will not stop establishments with retail licenses from serving free food and providing free entertainment, including alcoholic drinks as part of a meal or hotel package and room service.

Discussing alcoholic drinks as part of a contract with another establishment, selling pitchers, carafes or bottles of alcohol if it is a common practice of the establishment and raising the price of drinks instead of a cover charge to cover the cost of entertainment not regularly scheduled is allowed, according to the law.

“The happy hour ban is just one more example of how people are changing their attitudes about alcohol and drugs and realizing the importance of healthful lifestyles and policies which support the public health,” Long said.