Happy Hour Returns to Illinois

Posted on in Criminal Defense

happy hour, alcohol discounts, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyAfter more than 25 years, Illinois residents looking for cheaper drinks after work will be able to legally find them. Illinois lawmakers, earlier this year, passed a measure that repealed the ban on happy hour throughout the state. The new law took effect on July 15, 2015, and while most restaurant and bar owners are excited about the prospect of additional business, some still have concerns over the potential for danger among inebriated customers, including the possibility of drunk driving.

Why Was It Banned?

Throughout the 1980s, public safety campaigns around the country focused heavily on the dangers of alcohol-related accidents. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) successfully raised awareness of the problem, which, in turn, led to a demand for more aggressive preventive measures. Some municipalities, including here in Illinois, thought that a solution might be found in limiting discounted drinks to reduce binge drinking and drunk driving accidents. The state, as a whole, followed suit in 1989, albeit with rather inconsistent provisions. Happy hours were banned, but full-day specials were permitted, and many restaurant and bar owners found other, clever ways around the law anyway.

Reinstated Freedom

While the new happy hour law does not grant establishment owners the ability to do whatever they want at all times, it does provide a much greater degree of freedom. Discounted drink specials can last for up 4 hours per day—and they do not have to be consecutive hours—and up to 15 hours per week. The specials must be advertised on premises or on the establishment’s website at least seven days in advance, and are not permitted to extend beyond 10pm.

Alcoholic drinks are also permitted to be included in meal packages. For example, a bar may choose to run an advertised special that features wings and beer for a discounted price. In a more formal setting, a brunch special may also include champagne under the new law.

Possible Concerns

There are a number of bar owners, however, who are worried about the potential effects of the reinstituted happy hour. Many see the dangers of unruly patrons drinking too much too fast and have little inclination to offer discounts on alcoholic beverages. “It’s not a business thing, it’s a moral thing,” said Wicker Park restaurant owner Bill Jacobs.

“It will encourage people to overdrink,” agreed Laura Blasingame, co-owner of a Bucktown establishment. She is old enough to remember working at establishments during the last round of happy hour in 1980s and does not have fond memories. “I just remember people getting so loaded,” she said. “It was ugly.”

Legal Help for Your Case

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, or any other alcohol related charge, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney. Mr. Garfinkel is a former prosecutor who understands the criminal justice system and is equipped to help you navigate your case. Call 312-629-0669 to schedule your free confidential consultation and get the trustworthy representation you deserve.


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