LINCOLN — Efforts to make bars liable for injuries and deaths caused by drunken customers will have to wait at least another year.
The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee members talked about a “dram shop” bill Monday but took no action. Instead, they opted for a comprehensive study of Nebraska’s approach to drunken driving.
State Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha, who proposed the study, said he wants to look at the most effective ways to combat drinking and driving, including prevention, treatment, alcohol taxes, dram shop laws and drunk driving penalties.
He said the Legislature beefs up drunk driving laws every year or two without looking at what might work best.
Legislative Bill 693, introduced by State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, would have added Nebraska to the list of states that hold bars, restaurants and other alcohol establishments at least partially responsible for continuing to serve drunk patrons.
Proponents argued the bill would help address the toll taken by people who drive after overindulging.
As in previous years, the bill ran into opposition from bar and restaurant owners, who said buying additional liability insurance would create a burden on their businesses.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission currently has a rule that prohibits bars from serving drunken patrons, but it is rarely enforced.