In Defense of ‘Happy Hour’

Happy hour is a well-known feature to restaurants in the state of Colorado. Locals love it, people who visit love it. Who doesn’t love getting a beer every now and then that is half the price? I don’t mind one bit when the bartender charges me less for a drink between the hours of, say, 4 and 6 o’clock.

We are lucky here in Colorado because several states ban happy hour and some states have confusing rules that coincide with happy hour. Arguments mention that happy hour discounts encourage excessive drinking during a short period of time. People are getting too drunk off cheap drinks and then driving drunk and causing harm (sometimes death) to themselves and others. States such as Massachusetts, Alaska and Oklahoma are some of the few that took it into their own hands and made happy hour illegal state wide.

You might think, doesn’t the ban save lives? It turns out that the evidence is not so clear. Studies show in Massachusetts that the percentages of deaths related to drunk driving has dropped, from 62 percent of all crashes to 39 percent. However, what happy hour’s enemies don’t tell you is that it’s a nationwide trend. Plenty of states- including Colorado and California- saw abrupt declines in drunk driving related incidents without giving up the hours of happiness.

The happy hour ban sends a weird message that the price of drinks, rather than people’s irresponsible drinking, is the problem. Mothers Against Drunk Driving officials are worried about people over consuming the cheap drinks and driving home. MADD Chairman J.T. Dozier says “with happy hours or other discounted opportunities to drink, you may consume more than you should, and you think you’re alright to drive home but you’re not.”

To me, happy hour isn’t about slamming as many cheap drinks as you can, but creating a time and place to socialize and enjoy a discounted cocktail. Happy hour is an affordable way to sample local restaurants throughout the city. Bars and restaurants often offer delicious dishes during happy hour to attract customers to stay longer and return at different times when dishes are full price, so it’s not all about the alcohol. Enjoying good food and drinks gives you the chance to wind down and relax after a long day.

States should not prohibit happy hour because people who are going to overindulge are going to do it whether or not the drinks are cheaper. It isn’t fair for everyone to suffer because some people cannot control themselves. To make happy hour more amenable, there can be rules put into place to limit the amount of cheap drinks you can have and bartenders can refuse to serve you alcohol if you’ve had too much. Plan ahead and have a designated driver or take a taxi so you can enjoy happy hour and have a safe way home.

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