Happy Hour Legal Again in Illinois

Illinois Happy HourWith the stroke of a pen, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner completed the state legislature’s effort to repeal a 26-year-old ban on happy hours. After moving through the State House and Senate fairly quickly this spring, the measure has been in the hands of the governor since the end of May. Governor Rauner’s approval of the bill last week was met with mixed reactions as some bar owners celebrated the possible opportunities while others worried about the potential impact to overindulgence and drunk driving .

Previous Ban on Discounted Drinks

During the late 1980’s, a new wave of awareness regarding impaired driving and drunk driving was sweeping the country. Advertising campaigns, interest groups, and even the United States Surgeon General expressed the need to curb the dangerous practice of driving under the influence (DUI). In 1989, Illinois lawmakers took action and passed a ban on happy hours and any other discounts on alcoholic beverages. The effort was designed to decrease alcohol consumption in public places, and therefore, the likelihood of DUI.

New Regulations and Freedoms

The repeal of the ban is effective immediately, and includes requirements for bartenders and servers to undergo responsible server training. It also permits an establishment to offer discounts on drinks containing alcohol for up to 4 hours per day and up to 15 hours per week. The discounts must be clearly posted for at least one week in advance and may not extend beyond 10 pm. Two-for-one and all-you-can-drink specials are not permitted, except for limited applications in private party settings. An establishment may not give away alcoholic drinks as prizes, nor encourage or permit drinking games. Violations of the new law can result in the revocation of an establishment’s liquor license.

Mixed Reaction

The response to the happy hour ban repeal has certainly not been unanimous. A number of bar owners have welcomed the changes, recognizing the business opportunities they may present. Others have been quite vocal in their displeasure, raising concerns regarding the behavior of drunk patrons and the increased risk of impaired driving. In between the two sides, law enforcement officials, especially downstate, did not seem to be too worried, citing personal responsibility, rather than drink discounts, as the variable in question.

As happy hours spring back up in bars and restaurants around the area, you must still be aware that DUI penalties can be serious and may impact your life for years to come. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet . Our knowledgeable team will review your case and help you understand the options available under law. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your initial consultation today.