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Citizens Could Become Criminals Moorpark Weighs Beer Pong as Crime

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

The So Cal city of Moorpark might become less fun for restaurants, bars and patrons—even with a designated driver on-hand. The city’s police department supports beer pong as a crime—despite lack of evidence that the law is necessary—and making the law’s enforcement a foreseeable pre-cursor to other potential criminal charges like Public Intoxication.

Moorpark City Council has given initial approval to a legal ordinance that would make it either a civil infraction or misdemeanor—a crime--for city businesses including restaurants and bars to allow drinking games, and for customers of those businesses to participate in drinking games. The Council wants to hear from the public by July 7—with what could seriously impact businesses and their clientele, or how much clientele those businesses receive in the future.

The Moorpark Police department says drinking games--including beer pong--have become increasingly popular in Southern California restaurants and bars. There hasn’t been any incident in the Ventura County city of Moorpark—but that’s not stopping police from butting into what the department claims is an issue. It seems the local police department has even gone so far as to insinuate that games like beer pong lead to increased potential for sexual assault. The Moorpark police captain, Captain Nelson, has said in statement that drinking games (like beer pong) can promote "unsafe activities", such as drunken driving, fights and (yes, it had to be thrown in there to cover every base, of just dangerous beer pong could be) sexual assaults, when participants become highly intoxicated.

Sounds like every risk possibly associated with drinking has just been thrown at good ol' beer pong. No research or history—including criminal statistics pertaining to that increase in sexual assaults and beer pong—has been provided. In fact there's no major event--or even arrest--that has caused the sudden spotlight on beer pong or drinking games in the city.

“The intent of an ordinance would not be to limit drinking in a business establishment, but to limit extreme inebriation by those persons who may visit a bar or restaurant and normally not drink to a high level of inebriation but are drawn to that state during a contest,” said Nelson.

Who knew that the highest level of drunkards and crime was related to beer pong—and not the average idiot who drinks too much at a bar.

A few months ago the Ventura County Safe Bars Task Force, sponsored by the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department, issued a report following two undercover visits to a business serving alcohol, in the city of Moorpark.

During one visit to an establishment, Ventura County Safe Bars Task Force task force members supposedly observed business customers playing beer pong, consuming large amounts of beer and becoming very intoxicated. Task force members also noted that no taxicabs arrived to take the beer pong participants home.

As to what occurred during the other undercover stakeout, it’s unclear.

But apparently it only takes a “hunch” to create a law in Moorpark.

The tidbit, that task force members of Ventura County Safe Bars Task Force noted no taxicabs that arrived to take the beer pong participants home, could be construed as a bit misleading to be serving as the basis for creation of a law— The Ventura County Safe Bars Task Force noted no taxicabs—however also didn’t simultaneously note that any participant was actually driving a vehicle after participation, or had a designated driver for the trip home.

After all that “work” by undercover members, it would seem that a key fact—or ounce of proof—of actual witnessing of driving under the influence of a drinking game participant wouldn’t be referenced in those “notes”. If the Ventura County Safe Bars Task Force is so capable of organizing not one, but two, “undercover” visits or stakeouts to businesses, what exactly is the reason that one of those “force” members wasn’t able to get into a vehicle and physically follow a beer pong participant for potential suspicion of DUI?

The unnamed business of at least one undercover “visit” has apparently since been “contacted” and subsequently stopped allowing the drinking game, according to Moorpark’s police chief. That would, of course, be a wise decision for any business—unless it wants police officers hanging outside of a business establishment, to dissuade future business.

Moorpark police chief Nelson said existing law only allows police or alcohol-regulating agencies to deal with the consequences of drinking games like beer pong, while the new law would be a preventive action.

Well, there are quite a few laws that could be created, to act as a “preventative”—but then most citizens do enjoy civil rights.

The ordinance or new law would not affect drinking games at private residences. No kidding—unless we’re now inviting the police department to enter private homes like the plan seems to be in Moorpark.

Apparently that’s supposed to settle the minds of citizens-that Big Brother isn’t stepping into their homes, only into the businesses and restaurants they frequent.

Under Moorpark’s new law, first-time drinking game or beer pong participant offenders would be issued a police citation, couple with a $100 fine. Of course the concept--that a criminal charge of public intoxication would be accompanying that “fine” and first ‘criminal’ charge--probably isn’t too far removed.

Kudos to the Moorpark City Council, or at least whatever part of its membership is not so keen on having Big Brother now enter or negatively affect its local businesses--Councilman Mark Van Dam said he had concerns about the city of Moorpark regulating bars that are already supposed to be monitoring alcohol consumption by customers.

The potential Moorpark drinking game ordinance “just seems so narrow. It’s one incident of this and there were no [legal] arrests and now it’s like the sky is falling,” said city council member Van Dam. “We can’t regulate every incident of stupid. It just seems kind of petty.”

Councilwoman Roseann Mikos says she looks at the drinking game ban as a “tool” for businesses to protect themselves from irresponsible people. “Prevention is always better than anything else,” said Mikos.

There’s lots of tools in the shed—and not all of them are the sharpest.

Moorpark Councilman David Pollock said he wants to hear from the public either before or during the council’s July 7 meeting “to know whether or not this [drinking games or beer pong] is a problem we need to criminalize.”


Moorpark, CA
United States
34° 17' 8.0088" N, 118° 52' 55.3476" W
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