Taverns resist measure allowing minors to be served with parents

DENVER — Although some 18-year-olds may not care for the idea of drinking with their parents, they would have been able to under a bill that was killed by a Senate panel Wednesday.

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said he introduced SB54 to allow people age 18-20 to be served alcohol when they are with a parent or guardian not because he wants to have a drink with his children at a bar or restaurant.

He wants to be able to use it as a tool to teach his children about responsible drinking.

“I don’t see this being used every day by very many people, if ever,” he told the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which killed the bill on a bipartisan 4-1 vote. “The DUI level for a person under the age of 21 is 0.02 (percent). Half a beer and they are per se driving under the influence. It is a great opportunity to, as a parent, to tell them, ‘Here’s your problem. You can’t drive at all now.’ “

Opponents, however, said the idea would place too high a liability on them.

Current law treats wait staff and bartenders, and the establishments they work for, harshly if they serve underage patrons.

As it is now, it sometimes is a difficult task to know who is not old enough to drink and who is. Adding a new age group to that task would be too onerous, said David Reitz, executive director of the Tavern League of Colorado.

“The biggest issue that we tend to face is we really have to focus on carding people and making sure they comply with the law,” Reitz said. “Just getting them to remain focused on 21 sometimes is hard enough.”

Other opponents said they don’t want to be in the additional business of having to verify if the person accompanying the underage drinker actually is a parent or guardian.

Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo and chairwoman of the committee, said there’s no reason why Brophy can’t instruct his children on how to drink responsibly without going to a nearby bar or restaurant.


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