Pub Crawls – Just harmless fun? Think again.

September 6, 2007 No Comments

I am very concerned with the amount of Pub Crawls that take place in Pacific Beach many weekends throughout the year.

Pub Crawls are organized events where participants gather at a set location, usually donning some type of clothing (t-shirts or golfing outfits) or, gear (ie. shot glasses on a lanyard, etc.). Then, participants visit a set list of bars (they sometimes add a bar or two in between) and spend a little time in each. The more bars the merrier however due to time constraints they can only spend so much time in each bar.

For fun these crawlers sign each other’s t-shirts, play drinking games and generally seem to have a great time.

So why would I be concerned? Why might you care?

Mid-way and often times at the end of the crawl many people in many of the crawls I’ve seen are staggaring drunk. However, bars have very strict laws they ‘must’ follow. That is, if they believe a patron is over-intoxicated (and my understanding is the limit is at .08 BAC – the same as the drunk driving limit) they are not allowed to serve the patron. When a group of 10, 20, 50+ people (a typical pub crawl size) walk in and order a drink I believe a bartender and staff are in a dilemma. Do they want to turn a quick sale or two or, do they want to be the fuddy-duddy bar on the circuit that doesn’t let the crawlers have their fun?

Remember, bars are in the business of making money. They sell as much food and alcohol as possible each and every day of the year. Turning away a large crowd such as this is not very profitable. Since crawlers (typically – sometimes more) have only one or two drinks in each bar I believe bartenders and staff tend to look the other way. With minimal research bar staff can determine that patrons have been to a few or several other bars – deducing that they are drinking along the way. I believe seeing crawlers should heighten a bars concern that the patrons might be over-intoxicated but, I fear the opposite is true – “Is it really a big deal to give a drink or two to this many people, who’ll be out the door in a few minutes anyway? And who’s really looking anyway?

After 7-8 or 10 bars however, the average person is pretty lit. The bars at the end of the line I believe are the most culpable for a couple of reasons. One, patrons are clearly more intoxicated. Two, common sense indicates that a pub crawl is taking place (um, they’re all wearing the same t-shirt). Oftentimes the list of bars is printed on the shirt. If you’re one of the later bars you can pretty much assume that these folks had quite a few drinks before they ever arrived. That’s over-serving over-intoxicated people – and I assure you it’s happening all the time.

My other big concern is that many times people visit their PB friends, driving over to their house, parking and joining the crawl. By the end of the evening I’m worried that many participants decide to take the risk and drive home.

I’m not sure what the answer is but, I’ll tell you this. I’ve witnessed dozens and dozens of these crawls just in the last few years. There is a definite significant increase in the number of crawls. Sure, I’ll bet there isn’t a law against having an organized crawl but, wouldn’t common sense tell you as a bar owner let’s say, that you’re sticking your neck out pretty far for that sale? Well, that would mean a lot more if there were more enforcement of our liquor license laws. But, that’s another story. [Click here to read another post regarding the lack of significant enforcement in PB.]

Another big concern is that bars have caught on and are now organizing their own crawls. That’s right, they’re organizing together, printing up t-shirts, selling wristbands and letting people go from bar to bar drinking and eating along the way. Does this mean they are actually colluding to do business in such a way that some of them are breaking the law (i.e. later-visited bars) while all are profiting from the event?

Would the organizers of the crawl or the bars be responsible for participants if they were to be involved in a drunk driving accident where someone got hurt?

This picture is from a 2007 St. Patrick’s Day crawl sponsored by a group of bars – these crawlers still have a few bars to go – just heading East on Garnet in front of Filippis Pizza.

What do you think we can do as a community to address these concerns?

Bars and Restaurants

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