Drinks at 4 a.m.? Proposed California bill would let bars stay open later

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A state senator proposed a bill to allow California communities to set their own last call times. Bar owners welcome the proposal, but members of MADD say it's clearly a bad idea. (KFSN)

Closing times at bars in California could be as late as 4 a.m. if a recently proposed bill is passed. That bill would allow communities to decide what time bars should close.

In Fresno, the Tower District is full of life every weekend from the bar hoppers to the patrolling officers. Some people there say they'd love the party to go past 2 a.m. while others say there could be deadly consequences.

At Detention Billiards a good shot is hard to miss. And on a Friday night, customers come here to break the bank.

"Especially here in the Tower District, people love to bar hop here," manager Jennifer Sandoval said," manager. "So, people will come have a round of drinks here, shoot an hour of pool and go next door."

The lively bar scene keeps this part of town afloat. So, for Sandoval, the idea of closing at 4 a.m. would be great for business.

Last week, a state senator proposed a bill to allow California communities to set their own last call times. If passed, bars could stay open as late as 4 a.m.

"If we don't put a limit to it then it starts to become out of control and people start to abuse the opportunity," David Juan Morales Jr. with Fathers Against Drunk Driving said.

Morales Jr.'s 12-year-old son is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury one year after being in a drunk driving crash.

"It shouldn't take a tragedy to wake somebody up," he said.

Laurie Pinheiro's son-in-law never got to recover. He died eight years ago.

"A lot of people, unfortunately, unless they're impacted by a fine or a loss, they don't get it, they don't care," she said. "It's not going to happen to me it's going to happen to somebody else. Obviously, we've been somebody else."

Both agree later closing times would be detrimental to the community. They say longer bar hours means people have more time to get drunk and if they choose to get behind the wheel, people could die.

Local police already run check points, but Pinheiro remains skeptical.

"Somebody is actually trying to make this happen?" she asked. "I think it's an awful idea."

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