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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Alder: No bartending license for DUI

In an effort to promote public safety, a Madison alder is seeking support for his proposal to ban anyone with drunken driving violations from getting a bartending license for an undefined period of time.

Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18, said along with a license to dispense alcohol comes a responsibility that should be accompanied by a record of safe alcohol practices.

“We should not be rewarding irresponsible behavior or allow it to become a potential threat,” Schumacher said. “A license is a privilege, not a right.”

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The length of the license ban would depend on the severity of the offense, Schumacher added. An operating while intoxicated (OWI) violation, for example, would result in a five-year ban from receiving an alcohol license, where two or more offenses may result in a lengthier punishment.

Schumacher also proposes students with underage drinking violations be treated less severely and receive milder punishments than non-student offenders.

“Looking at a college town, I see that everyone screws up at least once, so we should have a level of forgiveness,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher added that first-time underage offenders should be pardoned from the policy, if passed, or at least face a more moderate sentence.

Each year approximately 3,000 bartending license applications are presented to the Madison Police Department. Applicants who have been convicted of drinking and driving or other alcohol-related offenses are flagged and their applications are turned over to the Alcohol License Review Committee for further review.

The committee reviews anywhere from 80 to 90 of these license applications each year, and of those about 50 to 60 would fall into the new policy’s category. Those candidates would most likely be denied a license, Schumacher said, but added since they “cannot anticipate every situation,” those convicted of drinking and driving still have the right to appeal their cases to the council.

According to Schumacher, the policy would affect less than two percent of the 3,000 license applicants each year.

“We are talking about a very small fraction, but we think that that fraction is so severe that neglecting it would be neglecting the public’s health and safety,” Schumacher said.

Hawk Schenkel, owner of Hawk’s Bar and Grill, 425 State St., disagreed with Schumacher’s sentiments.

“Alder people need hobbies,” Schenkel said. “If it’s not going to affect that many people, then it can’t be that big of a problem, so why make it a law? There are bigger problems for them to worry about, like solving a murder or two.”

Schenkel added the policy would prevent people from making a living, and the punishment proposed would not fit the crime.

“I think the proposal is just stupid,” Schenkel said. “If a lawyer breaks the law once, should he not be able to practice law?”

Schenkel also added that while three drinking and driving offenses shows a pattern of destructive behavior, the punishment suggested for one offense is too large, and the ALRC should work to specify their proposal at the very least.

The proposal will be completed and brought to the next city council meeting on May 20. Schumacher hopes there will be enough support to pass the issue by July or August.

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