Iowa City releases list of bars with most under-21 drinking violations

The 12-month, top-10 list of bars in Iowa City with the most under-21 drinking citations was released by the Iowa City Police Department last week.


David Harmantas

In this composite photo, businesses line Clinton St. in Iowa City on a summer evening. Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

The Iowa City police recently released the bar-check report with the top-10 list of bars in Iowa City that have been the scene of the most under-21 drinking citations in the past 12 months.

 The top 10, in order, are: Summit, Martinis, Airliner, Sports Column, Union Bar, Field House, Vine, Pints, DC’s, and Eden Lounge. 

The Daily Iowan reached out to the Summit, Martinis, Airliner, Sports Column, Vine, and Pints, all of which declined to comment.

 The list determines a bar’s ranking based on the ratio of police-officer visits to the number of citations written for under-21 patrons at the bar.

 The number of visits refers to the number of times officers visited the bar in a month, said police Sgt. Derek Frank, the police public-relations officer.

 The number of under-21 drinking citations is currently 280, compared with 257 citations issued at this time last year. When factoring in citations for PAULA, the overall number of citations has decreased from 588 at this time last year to 533 this year. 

The numbers don’t come into play unless the bar has an exception to the 21-ordinance, Frank said. The exception applies to establishments, generally restaurants, in which 50 percent of the revenue is something other than alcohol, usually food. If an establishment with the exception has too high of a ratio, it runs the risk of losing its exception, he said.

 The police take the ratios into consideration when the bar is reapplying for the exception. They recommend to the City Council that the business isn’t granted the license if its ratio is high, Frank said. 

RELATED: University of Iowa no longer a top-20 party school

The UI has worked to lessen underage drinking through different plans and programs. 

In 2016, the UI implemented the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan to reduce high-risk drinking. The plan is in effect from 2016-19 and outlines the goals and strategies for reducing drinking. 

In an email to The Daily Iowan, UI Office of Strategic Communication media-relations manager Hayley Bruce said the Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee is working on a new three-year plan to continue addressing the harm of drinking. 

RELATED: Recent data shows high-risk drinking more common in UI community

In an interview with the DI earlier this month, UI President Bruce Harreld said the university has taken many different avenues to reach underage drinkers. 

“We did everything. We educated, worked with the people who owned the bars, we enforced the laws, we created other activities on campus during Fridays, Friday nights, and weekends, etc., etc., etc.,” Harreld said in the interview. 

The city and the UI also have a joint project called the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, the goal of which is to advocate for students and identify strategies that reduce high-risk drinking. 

City Councilor Rockne Cole said the city works closely with the UI and the police to help reduce the amount of underage drinking downtown. It works with the city legal department when it determines the status of an establishment’s liquor license when too many violations have been observed, he said. 

“We understand that college is a time to go out and enjoy the social scene, but we ask that they [students] are respectful of the community,” Cole said.

 The police continually monitor the bars that are complying with laws, and the City Council believes officials are moving in the right direction for curbing the amount of underage drinking in Iowa City, Cole said. However, Frank disagrees. 

“I don’t think anyone believes we’re going to be able to stop underage drinking,” he said. “If people in that age group are going to drink, they’re going to drink.”

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