Drunken driving in Alabama is quite commonplace, although so-called dry counties that have laws against beer, wine and hard liquor sales may have fewer DUI arrests than the rest of the state. As a Birmingham drunken driving defense lawyer, I represent people who have been pulled over in Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile and Tuscaloosa, to name just a few.
Lately, a number of municipalities are getting the chance to change from being a dry town, to being able to sell alcohol within city limits. The question is, will approval of the sales of alcohol such as hard liquors or beer and wine mean an increase in arrests for driving under the influence? Time will tell, but the fact remains, voters will decide.
Based on the latest new reports, residents of Town Creek and Moulton, AL, may be voting on whether to allow alcohol to be sold within their city's boundaries. Already the mayors of these two municipalities have announced that folks are asking what it will take to get such as proposal on a future ballot.
Last year, the Alabama Legislature made changes in the state's liquor laws that allows more towns in dry counties to vote on the so-called “wet-dry issue.” This change in state law now allows towns with populations of at least 1,000 to vote on the issue. Based on the last census, both Moulton and Town Creek find themselves in this 1000-plus resident category.
The law also changed the number of names needed on a petition calling for a wet-dry referendum. It currently takes 30 percent of the total voters who participated in the last municipal election. The petition signers must be registered voters of the municipality holding the referendum.
It is not that easy to know how much revenue alcohol sales would produce for these towns, but the amount is not expected to be very great. Furthermore, while intuitively one might assume that drunk driving arrests would be poised to go up after a town goes wet, it may turn out to be just the opposite. According to reports, both Florence and Athens, Alabama, went wet a while ago, yet police in each town state that alcohol-related DUI arrests actually dropped since the switch.
City wet/dry votes possible, MoultonAdvertiser.com, January 28, 2010