Proposed changes to liquor law could hurt restaurants

Posted at: 11/26/2013 5:19 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

They call it the law of unintended consequences.

State officials wanted to crack down on all ages events like the one Hannah Bruch attended during her fatal overdose on ecstasy and allergy medicine, so they proposed changes to the state’s liquor laws. But those changes would have had a devastating effect on hundreds of New Mexico’s most popular restaurants.

The idea was to tighten restrictions on all-age events, requiring more security guards and better separation of drinking-age and under customers. Trouble is the language was a little vague, to say the least. Carol Wight and her colleagues at the New Mexico Restaurant Association saw the problem immediately.

“Underage drinking is one of the problems that we have in New Mexico,” Wight said. “They were trying to fix that but in doing that they basically would have made it illegal for us to serve drinks in restaurants.

Goodbye Garduño’s. Sayonara Sadie’s. But nobody really wanted to do that!

Brianna Jones doesn’t drink, but she thinks it should be legal for Mom and Dad to have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner, even with their kids at the table.

“Yes, just as long as you’re not drinking too much,” Jones said. “One or two glasses I think is fine.”

Art Shaw has no objection either.

“Sure they should be able to do that,” Shaw said. “But not the kids. The kids can’t even have a sip of course, but if their kids are with them I see nothing wrong with the grownups having some.”

“Drinking is not illegal,” Wight said. “It’s just we don’t serve to minors and we don’t serve to intoxicated people. So it was a mistake on the state’s part and I’m sure they’re going to work with us to correct it.”

So it’s back to the drawing board on those new rules for all-ages events. We should be seeing the new improved version of the legislation before state lawmakers begin their 2014 session in January.