State ABC Board considers rule changes, wants public’s feedback

Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-22 18:12:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Changes could be coming to "Happy Hour," including how much you can drink and how liquor is served as the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board  (ABC) considers some rule changes.

Representatives from the alcohol industry have offered up dozens of proposed changes, but some of them are not sitting well with community health collations, like Chesterfield's Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE).

“[As for] a recommendation to extend 'Happy Hour' to 2 a.m., there's a lot of research to show 'Happy Hour' accounts for sharp increase in DUIs and accidents related to alcohol impaired driving,” said SAFE Director Wayne Frith.

But bar patron Ben Royall would not mind extended "Happy Hour" events, and said he does not believe making make alcohol regulations tougher is a solution.

Royall admits that education about drinking dangers is key.

In fact, Royall said he had his own frightening experience when he was riding in an impaired driver's car.

“It was horrifying,” said Royall. “[My] friend said he wasn't drinking, but he had been and we flipped over and landed in creek and it was just crazy.”

Frith said SAFE is taking issue with other proposals by some industry lobbyists, such as possibly allowing mixed drinks to served by the pitcher -- or allowing women to go topless in places that serve liquor.

“You can go from topless dancers to who knows what else,” said Frith. "I'm not sure what was in the mind of the alcohol insidctry when they seek to relate the exposure of the female breast in an environment where alcohol is being consumed."

However, Royall was mixed on the topless proposal.

"I wouldn't want to go to a Magianno's and see somebody without their top on… but in a strip club, it's perfectly acceptable," said Royall.

The public is invited to weigh in on the proposed changes. The public comment period ends on March 30, but it could be weeks before any changes are implemented.

ABC regulations are reviewed every three years in Virginia to allow for changes.