WASHINGTON -- D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said he intends to sign legislation that will allow bars, restaurants and nightclubs to serve alcohol later than usual during the inauguration despite opposition.
Two U.S. senators this week urged the city to reverse a D.C. Council vote that allows most establishments with a liquor license to serve alcohol an extra three hours, until 5 a.m., between Jan. 17 and Jan. 21.
Of the more than 1,000 bars and restaurants licensed to sell alcohol in D.C., more than 300 have legally binding voluntary agreements with community groups limiting their hours and operations, which likely will prevent them from extending hours.
Extending alcohol sales will divert law enforcement resources from their primary focus on security, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said. Both senators are involved in planning President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.
Maryland Delegate Bill Bronrott, who started the Washington Regional Alcohol Program in 1982 to combat drunken driving and underage drinking, sent a letter to Fenty Wednesday asking him to veto the legislation out of concern for drunken driving in D.C.’s suburbs. Bronrott noted that Metro is not extending its hours and Sober Ride does not have funding to offer free cab rides that week.
Fenty said he doesn't expect Congress to overturn the city's legislation and that he has pledged to work with the lawmakers to ensure there's tight security. He hasn't signed the legislation yet but is expected to when it cross his desk in the next few days.
The D.C. Council could reconsider the law as early as Tuesday, but no council members have said publicly that they would.
Copyright AP - Associated Press