City of Columbia considers new guidelines for underage drinking violations

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COLUMBIA - Columbia may be changing the way bar violations are issued. 

The council will discuss a change to the City of Columbia Code of Ordinances concerning violations standards at Monday's City Council meeting. 

Right now the state is in charge of bar violations but Columbia could be in charge of issuing violations. 

The Substance Abuse Advisory Commission has established a point system to hold owners more accountable for various violations. 

The violations range anywhere from keeping the area litter free which costs a bar owner one point to using the bar for unlawful activities which is 10 points.

Other violations like bar brawls or selling alcohol to minors both earn the bar five points each. 

If the bar were to earn 10 points, that bar would have to close for one day.

After 60 points the bar would be shut down for a week and be considered for revocation.

Chris Hawf, chair of the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission said some things, like littering, the city will be more lenient with while other violations, like underage drinking, Columbia will see as more of a concern.

"We hope that everyone finds it reasonable," Hawf said. "We think it's fair, we think it will help with public safety and it will help with the bar owners as well," Hawf said. 

General Manager of International Taphouse Jon Whitaker said he's seen police officers come in and check ID's before. 

He said he has also seen the police come in undercover with a minor and ask for service. 

Whitaker said International Taphouse has never had an underage drinking violation and he doesn't see why changing the way things are now would prevent further underage drinking. 

"We really try to do our best," Whitaker said. "Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. I think every single bar here would like to follow the law including ourselves. I don't know if punishing us more is going to help anything." 

Hawf said he doesn't see a big change coming to the way police patrol bars but bar owners may become a little more aware of the violations. 

"I hope it holds them a little bit more accountable and they become a little bit more aware of what the penalties are," Hawf said. "But I don't see anything changing dramatically."