August 12, 2009 11:45:00 AM
In the debate of the sale of alcohol, ensuring public safety should be a point which must not be taken lightly. In reviewing the data available as well as reviewing historical evidence and perspectives from neighboring communities, it is clear that relaxing the restrictions on alcohol sales does not pose an increased threat to the public and there is evidence that less stringent regulation may reduce risk.
Sunday alcohol sales have not been shown to increase fatality rates due to DUI nor increase underage drinking. Studies have consistently shown no significant differences in rates of alcohol-related incidents (including DUI arrests, DUI-related fatalities, underage drinking, etc.) for states allowing Sunday sales and those forbidding Sunday sales.
Furthermore, studies, including analyses of behavior following actual changes in state and provincial laws, fail to find any evidence supporting proposals for limiting or reducing the number of sales outlets or the times during which alcoholic beverages can be sold. In some instances, it has been shown that stricter controls over availability are directly correlated with increased alcohol abuse. Multiple studies, which are analogous to Starkville and the nearby communities of Columbus and West Point, have shown that where bars and other on premise outlets are fewer and more geographically dispersed, the incidence of driving while intoxicated tends to increase.
Maintaining the present prohibition on Sunday alcohol sales for public safety reasons is contrary to the best evidence available. It has been shown that alcohol prohibition historically has been a failure to curbing alcohol consumption and may encourage abuse. Second, Sunday sales do not increase weekly consumption rates and thereby reduce abuse.
Furthermore, DUI and underage drinking laws remain in effect and Sunday sales should not be correlated to abusive practices. Enforcement of laws regarding irresponsible behavior will remain the duty of our dedicated officers who have been entrusted with ensuring the public well being.
Some in this community have prophesied doom and gloom for Starkville following the passage of the proposed amendments to the alcohol ordinance. The cities of Columbus and West Point are both within a half-hour''s drive of Starkville. Both of these cities allow Sunday alcohol sales. Neither has reported problems associated with the sale of alcohol on Sunday. The laws and culture of our community do not tolerate alcohol abuse and are being enforced to the best of our ability. Stringent laws regarding alcohol are designed to control the actions of responsible adults. We as a community should support and promote the right of each citizen to make wise and responsible choices regarding the purchase and consumption of legal beverages.