Over the past three years, the police department has been tracking the place of last drink on all alcohol-related calls in an effort to combat over-serving of alcohol and reduce related calls.
After 18 place of last drink cases were reported in 2016, the council placed a permanent restriction on Cowboy Jack’s liquor license when it came up for renewal in January.
The conditions stipulated if the business had three place of last drink notifications to the police department within a 90-day period, the council would evaluate the circumstances and would have a hearing to determine both the findings of fact and possible administrative penalties. Plymouth Public Safety Director Mike Goldstein noted five driving while impaired reports within 90 days.
The public safety department recommended imposing a $500 fine and a five-day stayed suspension, which won’t be enforced unless there is another violation. The recommendation aligns with the city’s penalty grid for a first-time violation.
An attorney for Cowboy Jack’s challenged the last drink reports, citing only two of the three driving while impaired cases were public, therefore, the criteria was not met. The attorney also challenged the legitimacy and accuracy of the last drink reports, citing lack of evidence that would hold the bar accountable, stating it sets up the license holder to fail and be held accountable for behavior they can’t control. For example, the attorney noted Cowboy Jack’s could serve someone without knowing they were intoxicated if that patron had been drinking elsewhere.
The council directed staff members to have an administrative hearing with Cowboy Jack’s with the hope of coming to an agreement. The results of that meeting would later be brought to the council.
Several council members expressed frustrations with the bar and the ongoing issue as it relates to public safety.
Wosje recommended the council revisit the city’s ordinance on bar closing times, currently 2 a.m., in an effort to further remedy the issue.
Johnson also suggested putting a broader policy in place for all license holders as it relates to the last drink penalties.
Mayor Kelli Slavik noted several attempts were made on the city’s part to work with the establishment, but were met with little cooperation.
“It’s not getting fixed. We’re to the point where we need to do something,” Slavik said.
Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]