Drunk on the sidewalk in a small town…

Dear World,

While perusing through my local paper, I came across an editorial that incensed me.

In response to In Our View 09/29/2010

“Sip of wine is fine, drunk on city sidewalk is not”


Throughout the editorial debating the pros and cons of sidewalk table dining in Ellensburg, the writer brings up the need to draft the ordinance being reviewed by the Ellensburg City Council in a way such as to prohibit “a drunken bar patron sprawled on the sidewalk.”

Surely the ordinance should take into account what time of day is most appropriate for a sidewalk table in Ellensburg and take into consideration the primary function of the sidewalk – for pedestrians to safely travel.

However, there should be no issue regarding “people getting drunk on the sidewalks” because there are already laws in place to prohibit such actions.

Every server in Washington State is required to hold a Washington State Liquor Control Board Class 12 or 13 permit. To obtain this permit, the server is required to attend a Mandatory Alcohol Server Training course from the WSLCB and pass a written exam before the permit is issued. I have gone through this course and the majority of the class revolved around making sure the people who walked into your establishment were of legal drinking age and impressing upon the servers that it is their lawful duty not to over serve customers. It is about making “responsible alcohol sales” and how NOT doing the former can land you, and your establishment, into serious legal trouble.

Sure, you can chuckle. I have seen many people downtown over the past decade or more who were definitely over served alcohol. I also cut-off a whole heck of a lot of patrons in my time as a bartender. I was not there on the other side of the bar to make sure you “got blitzed.” When it comes to whether or not to serve a customer a drink…the customer is NOT always right.

There needs to be accountability by both the server and the individual to respect the town, to use good judgment in their drinking and serving habits and to have an enjoyable time. This can easily be accomplished if restaurant and bar staff follow the rules. Sure, you won’t be the most popular server when faced with having to cut-off a patron, but following the law is much more important than getting people sauced and jeopardizing their safety and your license.

The City Council’s consideration of the ordinance should not focus on whether or not drunken revelers will be sprawled out on the sidewalk, that is something the restaurants and bars are already legally required to monitor and to enforce. Instead, the council members should focus on the merits of the request and whether or not the rationale behind sidewalk dining is appropriate for the City of Ellensburg.


Winnie Alberg

former Ellensburg bar manager, current professional wine judge



~ by winnieswineworld on September 30, 2010.

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