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Clark County Reopens Bars, Raising Drunk Driving Concerns in the Las Vegas Area

As the United States passed over 200,000 deaths related to Covid-19 last Tuesday, Nevada’s bars and taverns had reopened at 12:59 PM on the Sunday prior. [1] With Clark County being Nevada’s largest county, many scientists and experts worry that these reopening may result in another spike of COVID-19 cases in the Silver State. However, these reopening can cause a spike in another serious issue: Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s) caused by drunk driving.

Bars Reopening in Clark County

As Las Vegas residents approach the end of the month of September, they have witnessed yet another spike in Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday alone, the Clark County area reported 262 new cases and 15 new deaths, a sudden increase from the days prior. [2] The Southern Nevada Health District notes that this brings Nevada’s total Covid case total to 76,298,

However, amidst all the uncertainty regarding this pandemic, Nevada bars remained undeterred.  Though they initially reopened in mid-June during governor Sisolak’s Phase two of reopening, bars were quickly shut down by early July after being identified as a hot spot for the spread of Covid.  Almost three months later, The Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force agreed last week to relax the last of the bar closure orders that Gov. Steve Sisolak put in place, and to allow bars to open under strict social distancing, sanitation and mask procedures. [3] Bar owners in the Las Vegas area are remaining hopeful that they can make back the money they lost. Many anticipate tourist crowds to be lower, yet hope that the Las Vegas Raider’s debut season, as well as other NFL games, NBA playoff games and the upcoming MLB postseason can help bring back the crowds. However, before flocking to your nearest bar it is important to follow protocols and social distancing guidelines because the COVID-19 Task Force will not hesitate to close down bars again; the Task Force is still determining what actions it will take if there’s another spike in cases.[3]  When going out, here are some simple precautions Las Vegas residents can follow:

  • Practice Social Distancing: Stay six feet apart from others and respect the six feet markings that businesses put out for your safety, and the safety of the workers.
  • Wear a Mask: Not only are they required to enter any establishment in Nevada, but masks can ensure the safety of yourself, as well as others around you. Wearing a mask has been proven to decrease the rate of transmission of Covid-19.
  • Wash Hands or Use Hand Sanitizer: It is important to clean the hands after touching surfaces especially door knobs, counters etc. While washing hands are most effective, Hand sanitizers are efficient and useful when not near a sink. When it comes to hand sanitizers, it is important that the sanitizer contain at least sixty percent alcohol, or ethanol. [4]
  • Be Aware of the Symptoms: While there is still confusion surrounding the exact symptoms of COVID-19, it is important to familiarize oneself with the CDC’s list of symptoms, and to detect it early. This will limit the amount of time where you are unknowingly infecting others.
  • Show Respect to Your fellow Nevadans: If you know that you have come in contact with someone with COVIS, or you have tested positive, it is important to inform those you know you have come in contact with about your diagnoses so they can get tested. Additionally, wear a mask and follow protocols so that you can help slow the spread of COVID and protect the entire community ! [5]

Nevada Drunk Driving Accidents

While bars reopening poses a risk of a Covid-19 increase in the Las Vegas area, it also leads to the possibility of an increase in motor vehicle accidents related to driving under the influence in the area. In Nevada, Clark County has the highest rate of drunk driving accidents, and in 2019,  65 percent of Nevada’s impaired driving accidents happened in the Las Vegas area. In 2020, Southern Nevada saw thirty-eight impaired driving accidents, several of which resulted in fatalities. For example, in early July a couple driving under the influence were involved in a motor vehicle accident that tragically resulted in the death of their infant son. [6]

When driving on the Nevada roadways it is important to remember that it is prohibited to drive under the influence of  alcohol or drugs, and driving with a blood alcohol level  of .08% or greater as measured within 2 hours of driving can result in an arrest or revocation of ones’ Driver’s License, hefty fines, a variety of substance abuse education and classes, and possibly even jail time. [7] If you are drunk when leaving an establishment such as a bar, it is advised that one finds a sober friend to drive. If no one you know is sober enough to drive, it is better to take a ride share or taxi cab back home. It is also beneficial to plan ahead before going out to an event where alcohol is being served, and designating a certain trusted friend to be the designated driver or just not drink at the event. If you are on the road and suspect a drunk driver, call the police and provide the location, direction the vehicle is headed, the vehicle’s make, model, color and license plate number.[8]

As Nevada deals with the increasing number of COVID cases, they hope to safely create a feeling of normalcy and community by reopening bars and taverns. While this reopening can be exciting for many, it is important to keep in mind precautions to prevent both the spread of COVID-19 and car accidents related to impaired driving. Let’s ensure that we keep Nevada safe, both on and off the road.









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