San Marcos bars should implement ‘sober hour’

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Bars and clubs in San Marcos should stay open until 3 a.m. in order to allow patrons to sober up and use the restroom in a safe and controlled environment instead of throwing them out onto the streets at 2 a.m.

Public urination and intoxication are two of the most common arrests in Hays County. Keeping these establishments open an hour later would go a long way towards reducing the number of alcohol-related arrests and allowing police officers to spend more time tackling more serious offenses.

Additionally, implementing this policy would help save taxpayer dollars by eliminating booking, jail and court costs. According to an April 15 University Star Main Point article, both San Antonio and Houston have decriminalized public intoxication with the implementation of “drunk tanks.” By keeping bars and clubs open an extra hour, San Marcos would be well on its way to joining its Texas neighbors in a more progressive outlook on alcohol consumption.

The way that the system currently works for most late-night alcohol-serving establishments is that at 2 a.m., patrons are rushed out and everything is shut down. Instead of doing this, clubs and bars can make a few simple changes to their routine that would ultimately prove more successful and beneficial for all. The serving of alcohol would continue to conclude at 2 a.m. as per state legislation, but the business itself would stay open.

Bartenders could perform a thorough sweep of all customers that choose to stay and utilize the “sober hour” by making sure that all alcohol is collected. In order to maintain a positive vibe, music can continue to play and water could be provided to help further the sobering process. By providing party people with a safe and controlled environment to recuperate, the drunk driving rate could in turn decrease. Instead of being pushed out of a club and having to scramble to get a ride together, people can use that hour to phone a friend or call up a taxi service.

Providing bathrooms is also a huge service that would be beneficial for bar patrons to use. Public urination is the number-one offense in Hays County. Being able to use a bathroom with indoor plumbing is a far better option than deciding to make an alley into a toilet in a drunken haze and winding up with a sex offender or public indecency charge. Arrests for public intoxication reflect poorly on a permanent record and should be avoided at all costs.

Implementing these changes does not have to be a difficult or costly practice. Clubs and bars that may be weary of babysitting drunken baby adults should keep in mind that ushering inebriated crowds out of the door could lead to potential liability charges for arrests that may occur. However, customers of these businesses should also take responsibility for their actions. Having a sober hour will prove highly ineffective if someone chooses to slam four shots right before last call. Drinking and purchasing alcohol is a privilege, not a right, and those that participate should always remember to know their limits, plan a designated driver and drink responsibly.