Arlington, Virginia May Ban Backyard Drinking Games


A few years ago, Virginia's power-tripping alcohol control board cracked down on state bars and pubs that sponsored drinking games like beer pong. Naturally, young bargoers in Northern Virginia started playing the games in their backyards. So naturally, the city of Arlington may now ban them on private property, too.

Bluemont resident James Thorne said that, since the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board banned drinking games (such as "beer pong") from bars and eateries, they have gravitated toward outdoor areas, such as outside local homes.

"It affects our quality of life," Thorne said of the resulting noise.

Thorne asked board members to consider an ordinance change that would give county police the ability to request that such drinking games be moved indoors.

Board members said the matter should be investigated.

"What people do in the privacy of their own homes is their business," board member Walter Tejada said. "When it spills out and affects the quality of the neighborhood . . . we have to take a look."

County Manager Ron Carlee said his staff would look into the matter, coordinate with police and come back with a report to board members.

Reader Patrick Semmens sent the story, and adds via email:

As far as I can tell, this is being pushed by just one person, my next door neighbor, who is the sole proponent quoted in the Sun Gazette's article.

For the past two years he has called the cops on my well-attended annual St.Patrick's Day party (and last year also the Virginia Alcohol Bureau), but much to his dismay drinking beer outside during the middle of the day (and playing drinking games) is not against the law.  So he is trying to change that by imposing a law on the 200,000 citizens of Arlington County.

Now an elected member of the Arlington County Board says they are looking into it, and the county manager is wasting time and money having his staff "investigate." A police captain was even dispatched to my house to talk about the proposed law.

The city already has noise ordinances to deal with any disturbance Semmens' parties may have caused Thorne. Banning drinking games on private property seems a bit ridiculous. Then again, so does the idea of banning them in bars.

Semmens has set up a website to prevent the idea from gaining momentum.