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New Happy Hour Law for Illinois

After 25 years, as of July 15, 2015, Illinois will once again be allowing drinking establishments to have happy hour drink specials, thanks to a new happy hour law. They were banned due to the belief that there was a positive correlation between drink specials and excessive drinking, impaired driving and DUIs. The measure (“Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act”) limits the number of hours that a bar or restaurant can promote specials and it does not allow for volume specials like “buy one get one free”. It also prohibits specials after 10pm. No surprise that the Illinois Restaurant Association supported the change, arguing that it helps increase local and state tax revenue and makes Illinois a more desirable travel destination.

Both bar and restaurant owners did agree to mandatory training for those serving alcohol.

Of interest, according to American’s Health Rankings, Illinois has one of the highest numbers of “binge drinkers” in the U.S. – 22% of adults who reported having 4+ alcoholic beverages at least once over a month period. The Center for Disease Control points out that excessive drinking has many costs associated with it including loss in workplace productivity, healthcare costs, property damage costs and motor vehicle crash repair costs. Last year, these costs exceeded $9.3 billion in Illinois (vs. the national median of $2.9 billion). In 2013, almost one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. were due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

Do you believe it will truly increase sales (and tax revenue)? Is it worth it? Do we really need these drink incentives to stimulate tourism? Do you think allowing drink specials poses a danger to the public?