IOWA – Iowa is piloting a program called Place of Last Drink to help police trace where drunk drivers are coming from.
The program will help law enforcement find if any businesses need to be confronted about their practices with impaired customers and avoid over-serving. Iowa is joining 12 other states already a part of the program. It’s an effort that’s been shown to reduce over-serving alcohol and the number of arrests for drunk driving.
“Research shows that up to 50 percent of persons that are reporting their last drink–they’re having their last drink at a licensed establishment like a bar or a restaurant,” Chris Wagner, executive director of Project Extra Mile said.
In Council Bluffs, bars like Barley’s meet once a month with police to tackle any alcohol related issues in the neighborhood. Barley’s owner and Iowa Restaurant Association board member Matt Johnson believes the program can help keep all businesses accountable.
“I think there’s probably problem bars in every town and every community,” Johnson said. “I can’t speak for them and their practices, but I know what we try to do and what we want to do. You know, we want our customers home safe so they make it back again another day.”
Johnson’s business trains employees to look out for signs of drunk customers. At the end of the night, ride services have made it easier to find drinkers a sober ride home.
“We are advocates for Uber, taxi drivers,” Johnson said. “And our board talked about it one day, we all take people home. We all drive them home. If we’re on the way home, we’ll take them with us. When I used to bar-tend, I used to take people home.”
As for the data the program collects, the database will provide law enforcement and liquor licencors evident for punishing any business with practice problems.