EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 23, 2013

'Last call' could be extended

Bill allows alcohol to be served until 2 a.m.

(Continued)

Mike Somers, president of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, said like Kalil, most bar owners would probably extend their hours to increase business. But he believes the bill could use some tweaking.

“It needs to be a clean vote with no options for change,” Somers said. “If some towns or bars are open until 1 a.m. and some are open until 2 a.m., it becomes very confusing.”

One key argument of proponents is customers would stay close to home and be less likely to travel across the border.

“There is something to be said that a fair amount of young people drive into northern Massachusetts because they can drink until 2 a.m., then they can come back afterwards," Somers said.

But the concern is the extra hour of drinking may lead to more drunken drivers on the road.

Plaistow Deputy Police Chief Kathleen Jones said she would prefer to see last call kept at 1 a.m.

“We don’t have too many bars that stay open that late as it is,” Jones said. “If someone is already intoxicated at 1 a.m., then the hour might be detrimental. But if they are out there, we’re going to catch them.”

Rep. Mary Till, D-Derry, agreed the risk of staying open an extra hour outweighs the reward.

“I don’t think there will be much additional revenue,” Till said. “People are going to party either way, but I’m not sure they will spend any more money. I think they have a limited amount of spending money to begin with. People who are going to be primarily at bars at 2 a.m. are the ones that are going to be overindulging and end up on our streets.”

Baldasaro said that would happen regardless of the closing time.

“You are going to have the same stupid, irresponsible people whether it’s 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.,” he said.

The bill, passed 208-123 on Thursday, now goes to the Senate.

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