What the Summit Prevention Alliance is really about | SummitDaily.com

What the Summit Prevention Alliance is really about

Beverly Gmerek - Summit Prevention Alliance

The Summit Prevention Alliance (SPA) is a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles in Summit County.

SPA has provided services to prevent drunken driving in Summit County since 1985.

Our drunken driving prevention programming is overseen and developed by the Drunk Driving Prevention Committee (DDPC).

The DDPC is made up of local law enforcement, bar and restaurant owners, members of the judicial system, liquor industry experts, members of local governments and liquor boards.

We use a three-prong prevention approach of education, enforcement and alternative rides to prevent impaired driving in Summit County.

Some of our best-known programs are BarCode and TIPS responsible alcohol server training classes; Last Resort Ride (a free taxi ride home anywhere in the county if needed) that replaced the former Tipsy Taxi program; and our DrinkSmart public education campaign.

We are strong advocates for late night transportation options including countywide late night bus service.

The state of Colorado and local governments (acting as liquor boards) set the rules by which local establishments can serve alcohol.

Each local liquor board has a wide range of controls and sets the tone for alcohol service in their town.

The decision that a liquor board makes regarding a specific violation impacts how alcohol is served throughout the entire community. These decisions shape the norms and standards of our community regarding how alcohol is served.

One example is the decision regarding the density of liquor licenses in a given area.

An unlimited number of liquor licenses in a small area creates an atmosphere of competitive discount drink promotions.

These promotions may be needed to stay competitive in a small area, but can lead to a variety of alcohol-related issues including additional detox costs, extra law enforcement, assaults, domestic violence and vandalism.

During the last two years the DDPC has been developing ways to improve communication between liquor boards and their licensees to promote responsible alcohol service.

The DDPC directed SPA to present the following strategies developed to local town councils and the Board of County Commissioners:

n Open communication with local establishments by hosting an annual meeting with their licensees to discuss issues related to alcohol service in their town. Discuss expectations and current problems and issues in town.

n Invite licensees to a council meeting during their renewal process to thank them for choosing to serve alcohol responsibly.

n Develop a list of considerations to be reviewed during the renewal process. Some suggestions include drink-promotion ads from the papers, numbers of staff certified in responsible alcohol service and results of alcohol and tobacco compliance checks.

n Play an active role in liquor license issues by having one council member become a point person. His or her position could include sitting in on a TIPS or BarCode class, participating with the DDPC and working with other councils to develop a set of best practices regarding liquor violations countywide.

Responsible alcohol service affects our whole community; it can make or break a town’s image.

A group of rowdy establishments that serve alcohol in an irresponsible manner with intoxicated patrons roaming the streets can drive away tax and tourism dollars while costing the towns more in taxpayer services.

Most of the 197 liquor licensees in Summit County make a conscious choice not to conduct business in this manner.

The Drunk Driving Prevention Committee’s goals are to educate the public about the dangers of impaired driving, promote the use of alternative rides, provide responsible alcohol server training, support local law enforcement and promote dialogue between local licensees and their liquor boards.

We encourage the local councils/liquor boards to join the DDPC and take a more active role in promoting responsible alcohol service and decreasing alcohol-related problems in our community.

By working together, we can make Summit County a safer place to play and live.

The writer works on drunken driving prevention issues for the Summit Prevention Alliance, based in Frisco.

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