Bill would hold bartenders responsible for drunk drivers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bill would hold bartenders responsible for drunk drivers

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CLEVELAND, BRADLEY COUNTY -

(WRCB) - If you drink and drive, law enforcement would hold you, and only you responsible. Now, one state lawmaker wants to change that, making the establishment who served you pay as well.

State Representative Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) has always supported sterner drinking and driving laws, but now he's set to take it a step further.

He and Cleveland attorney Jim Logan want to hold bartenders and bar owners more accountable for drunk drivers they served.

"This bill is going to let that bar tender know that if you don't do your job that you agreed to when you got your license, if you don't cut them off when they get drunk you're going to be accountable too," Rep. Watson said.

The proposed law will allow officers on the scene of DUI cases to collect any evidence that shows where they were, and hand that evidence over to the ABC or the beer board for possible fines, suspensions, or revocation.

"Our local beer board when they're provided with evidence, they won't hesitate to suspend a license, the ABC won't either," said Logan.

Logan says the problem before this proposed bill was that the beer board had no definite way of getting evidence.

Logan says this bill will not change the civil laws to the server or establishment which are already some of the stiffest in the nation. It will only involve the beer board and ABC handing down punishments.

Kasey Blaylock has been tending bar in Cleveland for nine years, he says the Catch Bar and Grill doesn't exactly agree with the bill.

Blaylock says there's too many intangibles to pin it on the establishment, but he says some will have to adapt if it passes.

"They're messing with their own livelihood. If they're risky enough for that two dollar tip to do that, that's their own livelihood, and their own ignorance," Blaylock said.

Representative Watson said the bill will by finalized by mid-January, and will be reviewed in February. If approved it could be in place by June of 2012.

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