It’s been nearly a year since U.S. District Judge Alan C. Kay ruled that booze cruises—open bars on commercial tour and snorkel boats that don’t charge per drink—are actually illegal in the County of Maui. Luaus, hotel brunches and the like are all fine, but not the cruises. That case, brought by the family of a man killed in a car accident by a woman driving home following a booze cruise, was rough for Silva and LC Deputy Director Wayne Pagan, in that both ended up being named as defendants. The County Council voted to indemnify them from personal liability, but they still had to make sworn depositions in the case (see Greg Mebel’s “LC Director Sued,” Nov. 2, 2006 for more information).
But now Maui County Liquor Control Director Franklyn Silva says the Liquor Commission will be taking up the matter at its March, 2007 hearing. At the commission’s Jan. 10, 2007 hearing, Silva told the panel how one little mix-up led to one of the island’s more popular tourist activities getting prohibited by a federal judge.
Apparently, years ago the Liquor Commission was working on revising the county laws “to restrict excessive service of alcoholic beverages,” Silva said. The proposed law was pretty tough, and would have made it impossible for an establishment—including a luau—to hold an open bar.
The commission held public hearings, and lots of hotel and luau representatives came forward to say such a law would make it impossible for them to operate. The commission agreed, and dutifully changed the law to allow for open bars for hotels, brunches and luaus.
This was great, except that the booze and snorkeling cruise people never came forward. “We didn’t think of them,” Silva said. As a result, the law made no exception for them.
Now Silva wants to change that and include booze cruises in the county liquor laws. “It makes sense,” he told the commission. “You pay one price, do the snorkeling and come back in.”