Over The Limit Statistics Show Many Drivers Are Having A Few Too Many For The Road
More people are leaving drunk from Goodtymes Pub than any other Spokane Valley bar.
The number of people who told officers they had their last drink at Goodtymes was double that of the Blue Dolphin, which logged the second highest Valley total, according to 1995 Washington State Patrol statistics.
The state Liquor Control Board has warned the owner of Goodtymes about overserving customers, officials said.
Throughout the Valley, 583 people had been arrested by mid-December for driving drunk this year, according to the state patrol. That’s about average, said Sgt. Chris Powell.
“There’s never been a shortage of intoxicated drivers,” he said.
Not expecting one to start on New Year’s Eve, law enforcement officials will beef up patrols.
“If you’re going to drink and drive, there’s going to be a deputy or a trooper to arrest you,” Powell said.
That’s been the case 16 times this year after drinkers drove away from Goodtymes, 9111 E. Montgomery.
That number is considerably lower than the more than 40 the city’s worst offender sends out its front door every year. But liquor control officials are still concerned.
Seven of the drivers who were arrested after leaving Goodtymes had a blood-alcohol level greater than .15 on two breath tests. Two more drivers registered blood-alcohol levels over .15 on one of the two tests, well above the legal limit.
The Liquor Control Board responded by sending Goodtymes a letter warning the bar about overserving, said Robert Stamper, a control board agent.
“If they are serving alcohol, they have to make sure they are not serving to someone who is intoxicated,” Stamper said.
Liquor control officials also have received complaints of overservice at the bar during the past two years, but none could be proven, he said.
The owner of Goodtymes failed to return several calls seeking her comment.
Although the legal limit is .10, liquor control officials consider .15 to be a reasonable limit for bars to be able to tell when customers are drunk.
Some bar owners said certain bars are watched more closely than others, but law enforcement officers said that is not true. The time of night has more to do with arrests than location.
“If a car is pulling out (of a bar) and it’s one o’clock in the morning, you are obviously going to take a closer look at it,” Powell said.
Nearly half of this year’s arrests were made after 1 a.m. and only 141 opted to name their last watering hole.
With the new year approaching, state patrol troopers have teamed with sheriff’s deputies to work a special four-day patrol that will crack down on drunken drivers in the county. As many as 15 officers will be assigned to the patrol until it concludes early Monday, Powell said.
Despite a New Year’s Eve tradition of heavy drinking, arrest numbers tend to fluctuate yearly, Powell said. Often groups will bring a designated driver when they go out drinking because of the publicity the holiday receives.
“The problem is that (public) emphasis seems to be only New Year’s Eve,” Powell said, adding that some drinkers become careless during other months.
For example, the Blue Dolphin, 16 S. Robie, poured eight drunken drivers onto Valley roads - second most in the Valley this year. Only one of the drivers was arrested in January, and none on New Year’s Eve.
Garth Werner, who owns the Blue Dolphin, attributed the lack of New Year’s Eve arrests to the night club’s pasta feed and shuttle service that takes drinkers home for free.
The Blue Dolphin also offers free coffee and soda to designated drivers, limits how fast customers are served and calls cabs for people too drunk to drive all year.
Werner said he has even invited people to spend the night at his house next to the bar, when they are too drunk to drive. He estimated more than 100 people have accepted, but even that hasn’t been enough to stop everyone from driving drunk.
That’s because differences in alcohol tolerances sometimes make determining how much is too much difficult, he said.
Only one of the drivers arrested after leaving the Blue Dolphin had a blood-alcohol level greater than .15. Three others were below the legal limit.
But there are tell-tale signs, Stamper said. People who have had too much to drink often have slurred speech and flushed faces. They also tend to fumble with their money and stumble when they walk.
At the Lotus Garden, a man who should have been exhibiting several of those signs was allowed to leave. The driver’s .31 blood-alcohol level was the highest among Valley arrests. The driver was the only one to report having his last drink at the Lotus Garden.
“Unfortunately, the DUIs don’t scare anybody,” Werner said. “They feel they aren’t going to get caught.”
The atmosphere at a drinking establishment makes a difference in how much people drink, said Wine Stein’z owner Terry Lindgren. Night clubs that offer dancing draw larger crowds and a different type of drinker, she said.
“There are particular bars you go to to party and there are ones you go to on a date,” Lindgren said, grouping her bar with the latter. “That makes a big difference.”
Though Wine Stein’z has only been open eight months, the bar and restaurant attracts a large weekend crowd. No one arrested for drunk driving has said they had their last drink there.
Bartenders at Wine Stein’z serve coffee, instead of alcohol, to customers who have already had too much to drink, she said. Employees also call taxis for those too drunk to drive.
“You can’t force them to get into a cab, but you can certainly make that concerted effort,” she said.
Werner agreed, saying the responsibility of not driving drunk lies with the drinker. People are supposed to be responsible adults by the time they are old enough to drink legally, he continued.
“When are you responsible for your actions and when aren’t you?” Werner wondered. “You only feel like you can do so much.”
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TAVERN NAMES FAMILIAR TO POLICE Each year about 40,000 people are arrested in Washington for drunken driving. In the Spokane Valley, the following bars were the most frequently named as places people had their last drink before being arrested for drunken driving. 16 - Goodtymes Pub 8 - The Blue Dolphin 6 - Hungry Farmer 4 - Dave’s Tavern, Fuzzy’s Sports Buzz Pub and Grill, Little German Inn, McQ’s Billiard Parlor and Cafe, Stockyard’s Inn, Sullivan Scoreboard Tavern, Wickerbill Tavern 3 - Hat Trick, Huffman’s, Susie’s Steak and Seafood, Valley Ho Inn Source: The Washington State Patrol
This sidebar appeared with the story: TAVERN NAMES FAMILIAR TO POLICE Each year about 40,000 people are arrested in Washington for drunken driving. In the Spokane Valley, the following bars were the most frequently named as places people had their last drink before being arrested for drunken driving. 16 - Goodtymes Pub 8 - The Blue Dolphin 6 - Hungry Farmer 4 - Dave’s Tavern, Fuzzy’s Sports Buzz Pub and Grill, Little German Inn, McQ’s Billiard Parlor and Cafe, Stockyard’s Inn, Sullivan Scoreboard Tavern, Wickerbill Tavern 3 - Hat Trick, Huffman’s, Susie’s Steak and Seafood, Valley Ho Inn Source: The Washington State Patrol