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Prohibition has one last stand in Connecticut

By Gregory Koch
On February 26, 2014

Most people believe alcohol prohibition completely ended in 1933 with the repeal of the 18th Amendment. However, there are still many towns and counties that ban the sale of alcohol. There is only one such place remaining in the state of Connecticut, the town of Bridgewater in Litchfield County. Litchfield is planning to hold a referendum on whether to finally repeal Prohibition in their town and allow the sale of alcohol. The vote was originally scheduled for two days ago, but was postponed indefinitely to ensure that the proposed legislation complies with Connecticut's blue laws. Prohibition was rightly repealed 81 years ago, and there is no point in continuing it in certain places today. Bridgewater should get with the times and finally legalize the sale of alcohol.
 This ballot measure was originally proposed after two restaurants tried to open in the town. However, neither would start up unless they were permitted to serve alcohol. Currently, Bridgewater has no restaurant except a small store with a delicatessen inside. To open not one, but two restaurants would be a major boon to the economy of a small town that is severely lacking tax revenue. In fact, Bridgewater's town coffers are so low that it might be forced to shut down its only elementary school.
Legalizing and taxing alcohol would bring tax revenue to the town by itself. Additionally, the restaurants that serve alcohol would also serve other food and beverages, which would be subject to sales tax. The owners would also pay income tax on the money the new restaurants make. Legalizing alcohol would revitalize the town entirely, and consequently, all residents would benefit from having a restaurant where they could go out to eat, whether they choose to drink alcohol or not.
Additionally, it is fairly easy for anyone in Bridgewater to drive to a neighboring town if they want to drink alcohol. However, they are currently forced to drive longer distances than they would if they could drink legally in their own town. As a result, some of them might drive home in a partially inebriated state. Although DUI is, and should continue to be, illegal, not every drunk driver gets caught. Many of them don't get caught until they get into an accident and injure themselves, or someone else. Statistically speaking, people are less likely to get into an accident when driving shorter distances because they are on the road for less time. Allowing people to drive shorter distances to drink alcohol would significantly reduce the chance of motor vehicle crashes.
There is no good reason to continue prohibition a full 81 years after it was repealed nationally. Bridgewater is behind on the times because of their refusal to change an archaic law. The town badly needs revitalization, and legalizing the sale of alcohol would do just that.
Ending prohibition would probably provide enough of a boost to Bridgewater to keep the elementary school open. Children would be able to continue attending school in their hometown. If it is forced to close, students will attend a large regional elementary school instead. By keeping the local school open, they can get a higher quality education in a smaller setting.
It is utterly ridiculous that I still need to write a column like this in 2014. We knew over three quarters of a century ago that prohibition is a bad idea. Evidently the residents of Bridgewater never learned that lesson like the rest of the country did. Whenever the town does get around to having the referendum to finally end prohibition, residents should vote in the affirmative. It will be 81 years too late, but better late than never.  


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