City Council officially tables Liquor Ordinance changes until Feb. 19

Revelers pass around shots in a Casper bar. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

City Council postponed the second reading of proposed changes to the Liquor Ordinance at the Tuesday, Feb. 5 City Council meeting. The issue was tabled until the Feb. 19 Council meeting.

Council has been considering amending the City’s Liquor Ordinance to make establishments responsible for over-serving patrons, bar owners, and employees. Several concerns have been raised about potential consequences of the changes.

Councilman Mike Huber said he was concerned about dram shop liability during both the Jan. 22 Council meeting and the Jan. 29 work session. The legal code in 30 states stipulate some form of dram shop liability which means holding a licensed liquor establishment accountable for providing alcohol to an individual who later commits a crime while intoxicated, according to the National Conference of State Legislature’s website.

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Huber said he was worried that the current changes Council is considering might be interpreted as conveying dram shop liability, even though he said he understands that is not the intent behind the changes.

City Attorney John Henley briefed the Council at its Jan. 29 work session explaining that Wyoming has protections against holding establishments accountable in such cases. He said that State law would likely override local law should a municipality such as Casper enact statues establishing dram shop liability.

Mayor Charlie Powell expressed a different concern at the Jan. 22 Council meeting. He said he was concerned that the changes to the Liquor Ordinance might make people responsible for over-serving guests at private parties in their own homes.

Several other Councilmembers expressed hesitation regarding the changes during last week’s work session. Council decided at that work session that it would table the changes to give itself more time to consider the issue.

Assistant City Manager Fleur Tremel explained that Council needed to officially table the issue at the scheduled second reading of the proposal during Tuesday’s Council meeting. (Oil City’s announcement of the planned tabling can be found here.)

Though Powell expressed some hesitation on adopting the changes, he told Oil City that something needed to be done to ensure public safety against alcohol related problems like drunk driving and domestic violence.

“What we haven’t heard from people unhappy about this are other solutions,” Powell said, pointing to alcohol related problems like drunk driving and domestic violence. “These things have long term consequences for people.”

The Council will have the opportunity to review the issue at its next work session Tuesday, Feb. 12. It will then tackle the issue at the rescheduled second hearing, Tuesday, Feb. 19.

To read more about the proposed changes to the Liquor Ordinance, see Oil City’s coverage of the issue at the Jan. 22 Council meeting here.