Closing time

Council to give more study to bar operation hours

City leaders are having second thoughts about another hour of drinking in the local bars.

The Minot City Council decided to give more study to a proposal to allow bars to remain open until 2 a.m. It sent the matter back to the Liquor and Gambling Control Committee, which had advanced the proposal for passage. State law allows for liquor establishments to remain open until 2 a.m., but Minot did not adopt that change in state law. It continues to require a 1 a.m. closing time.

Council member Kenton Kossan said allowing another hour of drinking may result in increased incidences of individuals with high blood alcohol content.

He cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study in 2014, which reported 32,675 people died on roadways in the country. Of those, 11,731 had alcohol in their systems.

“The number that really struck me in this particular instance is that only 1,764 of them had blood alcohol content below the legal limit; 9,967 were above the legal limit,” he said. “I would argue that providing people an extra hour to consume alcohol may not seem like a big deal, but if you break it down to the .06 to a .09, your odds of being involved in a crash that could kill somebody increases exponentially. I want this body to really, truly consider the safety aspect of one hour.”

Council member Stephan Podrygula then noted the impact on law enforcement of dealing with alcohol-related issues later into the night.

The council discussed the option of requiring establishments to stop serving at 1 a.m. but allowing doors to remain open until 2 a.m., which also had been discussed in committee. One of the drawbacks is businesses would have operational costs but would not be generating revenue during that hour, council member Shaun Sipma said.

The council determined more public input is needed in deciding to send the matter back to committee.