Lawmakers Call Commingling Law Illegal

March 21, 2012 Updated Mar 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM EDT

By John Borsa

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March 21, 2012 Updated Mar 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Two members of the Buffalo Common Council, who have asked not to be named, tell Eyewitness News that even though they voted yes on legislation to ban commingling in downtown Buffalo bars and nightclubs, the legislation would never pass a review in the courts.

Commingling is legal in New York State. It allows adults ages 18-20 to legally enter alcohol-serving establishments. Businesses are not allowed to serve alcohol to the underage patrons.

Tuesday, Buffalo moved to end commingling in a downtown zone consisting of the Chippewa Entertainment District.

Supporters of the proposal, including the council members who believe it is illegal, said the law would help to make the Queen City nightlife experience a safer one.

Mayor Byron Brown has ten days to veto the legislation, otherwise it becomes law.

But Brown does not believe the legislation goes far enough to end violence in the downtown core because it contains an exemption to allow commingling once a week on Thursday nights.

"I don't think the legislation that was passed by the council goes far enough because it allows the practice of commingling one night on Thursday nights," said Brown, who would not discuss whether he plans to veto the measure.

Several lawyers have called the measure unconstitutional, including Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Barry Covert.

The law would ban people under the age of 21 from entering taverns, bars and nightclubs within a zone from West Tupper St. in the north, Seneca St. in the south, Elmwood Ave. in the west and Main St. in the east from the hours of 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Restaurants, performance venues, hotels and motels, along with several other types of alcohol-serving businesses, would be exempt.

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