City will monitor Tugboat for DUI arrests

— For the next six months, the city will be looking at the number of drunken driving arrests stemming from the Tugboat Grill & Pub.

In a 13-month period, 14 people arrested for driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired told the Steamboat Springs Police Department that they had been drinking at the Tugboat. Acting as a liquor licensing board, the City Council renewed the Tugboat's liquor license Tuesday night, but asked that the number of DUIs be reviewed again in six months.

If the number of DUIs continue to increase, Tugboat representatives will have to appear before the council.

The decision comes a little more than a month after council took similar action with the Slopeside Grill. At its Dec. 17 meeting, the council approved the Slopeside's liquor license but expressed concerns over a report from the police department indicating that, in an eight-month period, six people who received DUIs said they had been drinking at Slopeside.

In that case, the council also decided to review in six months the number of DUIs tied to that bar.

City police reported 249 DUI arrests in 2001 and 183 DUI arrests in 2002, Director of Public Safety Services J.D. Hays said.

City Clerk Julie Jordan said both the Tugboat and Slopeside had zero reports of DUIs a year ago, the last time their liquor licenses were up for review.

The city has granted more than 90 liquor licenses and typically reviews liquor licenses administratively. But, Jordan said, part of the process is running a police check, and when an unusual amount of police incidents appear, it is her job to inform council.

"When there is something unusual I need to bring that up in front of the City Council," Jordan said. "I just felt they needed to be aware when I do renew (a license) and find a change from the previous year as far as the number of DUIs."

But Larry Lamb, co-owner of the Tugboat, is questioning the city's statistics. Lamb said this was the first time the Tugboat has appeared before the council because of DUIs. He wonders how his business jumped from zero to 14 DUIs in one year.

"I want to find out where these statistics are coming from, and how they are reporting, and if they have increased the patrol so you are really dealing with more people," Lamb said.

As part of their standard procedure, Tugboat servers suggest taxi cabs, buses and rides when someone has too had much to drink, and do not serve visibly intoxicated people, Lamb said, adding that they will continue to do so.

He also said there is a wide gap between someone who is visibly intoxicated and too drunk to serve and someone who might be slightly over the legal limit but shows no signs of being drunk and unable to drive home.

Of the 14 incidents related to the Tugboat, six involved DWAI charges, which means the person's blood alcohol content was between 0.05 and 0.1. The other seven involved DUI charges, in which the person's blood alcohol contents was 0.1 or higher.

Lamb also said it is hard to track someone's path, who could have had the first beer at the Tugboat and then went to three more bars before being pulled over for a DUI.

But Jordan said there is no other way of keeping statistics on establishments that might be over-serving alcohol.

"We don't have another model to measure," Jordan said. "And we need to make sure that they are being careful in the amount that they are serving."

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