Sunday, December 23, 2001

Bars to close earlier

Police say patrons causing problems

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Bad news for late-night pub crawlers — on Jan. 1, closing time in Lexington returns to 1:30 a.m.

        In April 2000, the Urban County Council repealed the 1:30 a.m. closing time, long a local tradition, provided that bars stopped serving drinks at 1 a.m.

        In theory, a relaxed closing time gave customers a chance to sober up before hitting the road.

        In reality, that didn't work, said Lt. William H. Henderson Jr. of the Lexington police Alcohol Beverage Control unit.

        “We have a small number of establishments that are causing problems,” Lt. Henderson said. “We've gotten calls for service well after 1:30 a.m. at these places, with problems like bottles being thrown and fights.”

        At the request of police, the council reversed itself Dec. 13 and voted to reinstate the closing time for businesses licensed to sell alcohol by the drink.

        Police sent letters to bars this week to explain the change.

        Under the law, closing-time violations can bring fines of up to $200 for a first offense, and up to $500 for additional offenses.

        Larry Dean, co-owner of AIA, a bar and entertainment complex, said the council's action is just the latest effort to bully students.

        The University of Kentucky already has banned alcohol on campus, Mr. Dean said. And recently, the city made it easier for police to break up parties in residential neighborhoods.

        “Our city council is made up of a bunch of old people who forget what it's like to be young,” Mr. Dean said. “They may as well just call this town Mayberry.”


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