By Katie Dahlstrom
CLINTON — Colorful wristbands will be the hottest accessories at Clinton bars with under 21 exemptions if an amendment to the city’s alcohol monitoring program is approved.
Clinton bar owners who allow people younger than 21 in their establishments will have to issue wristbands to patrons between the ages of 21 and 30 at all times under a monitoring program amendment the Rules and Regulations Committee unanimously agreed to forward Tuesday.
The amendment came from the Marijuana and Underage Drinking group of the anti-substance abuse organization, the Gateway ImpACT Coalition after the group reviewed the monitoring program that is required for bars with an under 21 exemption under the city’s alcohol ordinance.
When reviewing the monitoring plan MUD members found it was unclear, making it difficult for bars to know they are subject to the plan and for police to enforce it.
Fourteen Clinton bars allow people under the age of 21. Of the 14 establishments that welcome people under 21, two sold alcohol to a minor in a compliance check performed by the Clinton Police Department, according to Capt. Tom Bohle.
The wristband policy previously applied only to patrons between the ages of 21 and 26 and would require a dated wristband, although the current ordinance is vague regarding when the wristband rule applied.
Under the amendment, people who look 30 or younger would be carded and need to wear a wristband at all times. That wristband would have the name of the bar on it as well as be a specific color assigned to that bar.
The new monitoring plan states: “At all times, if the customer purchasing alcohol is between age 21 and age 30, he/she must be fitted with a wristband of designated color with the bar name clearly printed on it which cannot be removed without being destroyed.”
“Bars would certainly have to make plans for this,” MUD member Lettie Posey told committee members Tuesday. “We actually talked to the Bar Owners Association about how much that would cost and how that would change their business and it seems like if you buy in bulk that wouldn’t be a huge problem.”
Dave Holmes, the owner of Legends, said he has been issuing arm bands since his Clinton sports bar opened six years ago.
“I’ve been doing this for 29 years and I have yet to have a violation,” Holmes said.
He purchases 5,000 wristbands a year for $225, which equates to $4 to $5 a week on wristbands.
Further, the amendment reads, if a patron is purchasing a pitcher of beer or multiple drinks, all members of his or her party must be identified and checked for wristbands or carded. Employees also will be directed to regularly check tables with pitchers of beer to make sure no one under 21 is drinking.
The Bar owner Patti Barr, whose establishment allows people under 21, submitted a letter in support of the amendment, which she believes will further MUD’s mission to curb underage drinking in the community.
“When minors are in a bar it is almost impossible to make sure minors are not drinking all the time,” Barr wrote. “With adults around them drinking it is very easy for them to ‘grab up’ a drink or get an extra cup to help themselves to a pitcher of beer.”
MUD also added a phrase to the monitoring plan to remind bar owners that people under 21 will be required to leave by 12:30 a.m.
The amendment made it through the committee unanimously and will move forward to the Committee of the Whole.