Eliminating Cards To Drink At Restaurants On May Ballot

Alcohol sales in Smith County have been a hot button issue for years. Now, a group of restaurant owners are hoping to change the law that requires you to have a private membership to drink alcohol. But all that may change in May. The petitions signatures were verified, and the decision is now up to you.

Tired of digging in your wallet for your membership card? Well, so are many others.

"It is senseless I don't see the point of having one. If you have a valid drivers license, that is what should tell you if you can drink or not," said Karla Spier.

"Showing your ID should be plenty enough. I don't know that the cards are working anyways," said Jean Roach, Tyler resident, non drinker.

Eliminating those cards may happen sooner rather than later. Tyler Citizens for Restaurant Choice have gathered the signatures and you get to decide.

"Give citizens of Tyler an opportunity to protect their identity to not have to hand over their information," said Bob Westbrook, President, Tyler Citizens For Restaurant Choice, "Serves consumer in two ways. It serves them by protecting ID and also protecting pocketbook. And restauranteers holding their price points longer."

Rodney Harrison has been a manager of Papasita's in Tyler for 10 years.

He says after the customer does their part, the restaurant has to do a lot more. Paperwork, time and thousands of dollars that they say is un-necessary.

"A lot of paperwork really," said Harrison, "We are not trying to sell more alcohol we are just trying to cut down on the paperwork."

Some have voiced opinion against. Last year we spoke to a local minister who says it's a step in the wrong direction

"Without membership you may as well be a wet county ," said Mike Baker, West Erwin Church of Christ.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving said being wet or dry may not be all that different.

"The statistics just show that it doesn't matter whether a county is wet or dry the fatalities are still there," said Vicki Knox, MADD.

Madd says Smith, as a dry county, actually has more fatalities every year than other wet counties like Gregg.

Evidence that doesn't swing one way or another, but opinions that do.

If passed this will only apply to restaurants whose majority of their sales is food. It will not apply to private clubs such as bars.

Danielle Capper, Reporting. dcapper@kltv.com