A bill to prohibit drinking by anyone in a car—passengers as well as the driver—couldn't get enough votes for approval at last week's meeting.
Even though more aldermen were for the bill than against it, the new liquor ordinance needed four votes to become law, and only three aldermen cast that necessary "aye": Ward 1 Alderman Forrest Gossett, Ward 2 Aldermen Chris Gard and Ward 2 Alderman Sonya Shryock.
Casting "nay" votes were Ward 3 Alderman Rick Stokes and Ward 1 Alderman Cheryl Kross. The second Ward 3 seat remains empty.
When she asked for the new ordinance, Police Chief Lisa Harrison said that the amendment would prevent drivers from drinking and passing the container to a passenger if stopped by police, as well as preventing passengers who are drinking from being a distraction to the driver. Chauffeured vehicles like party buses, limos and RVs were exempt.
Mayor Nick Guccione said that at first he was opposed to the law. "Our job is to protect the citizens," he said. "But I’m kind of torn on it."
"Wentzville is not interested in being Big Brother," Gard said. He went on to say that he believed that young families are one of the largest demographics in the city. "For parents, this is a huge concern."
Captain Kevin Pyatt of the Wentzville Police Department said that officers have discretion about implementation of the law, that they take a lot of matters into consideration. "You take into consideration the totality, the severity . . . time of day, rush hour traffic. Are they close to home?"
"We’re not out to ruin everybody’s lives," he said.