Amidst the finger-pointing and official investigation following the tragic deaths of two young people in a drunken-driving-related motorcycle accident last summer, the Annapolis bar that sold the two underage victims was “slapped” with a $6,000 fine and two-week license suspension from the city’s liquor control board. While the action against Acme Bar and Grill is one of the more serious that the Annapolis Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has ever taken against an establishment that serves liquor to the public, some people may be wondering if the penalties do justice to the accident victims or their families.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we understand that alcohol regulating authorities can only do so much within the law, which is why we have civil courts and personal injury law. Whether one lives in Baltimore, Rockville, Howie or the District, underage drinking is wide-ranging problem. But many would argue that it doesn’t need to be exacerbated by the apparently lax standards and loose policies demonstrated by some drinking establishments across this nation.
Not only do bars, pubs, restaurants and convenience stores have a responsibility to follow state laws against serving liquor to underage individuals, their actions (or inaction) can result in greater consequences than simply that of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. As evidenced by this particular story, many underage kids possess driver’s licenses and regularly operate motor vehicles on public roads.
Of course, an automobile, motorcycle or commercial trucking accident can just as easily be caused by a legal-age adult as it can an underage driver. The point here is that traffic accidents involving alcohol or drug use are frequent enough without opening the door for younger, underage drivers to make that deadly roll of the dice. Fatal car accidents happen; there is no argument. But bars and restaurant owners need to do their part to limit the opportunity for less experienced drivers — typically underage teens — to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
According to news articles, Acme Bar and Grill has felt the wrath of the Annapolis Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and will have its license suspended for the next couple weeks, starting on February 10. This is not to say that everyone agrees with the decision, but considering the tragic result of the alleged violation, many might say that it was a good start.
Based on reports, the punishment meted out to Acme was one of the more significant decisions against a liquor-serving establishment in recent times. But one can be certain that the controversy will rage on. For example, some local experts argue that underage drinking on the night in question involved more what some have described as a fraud and conspiracy based on lies. According to new articles, one of the victims, 19-year-old Kelcey Silva and her brother, Acme’s head doorman at the time, may have been the primary source of the deception.
Based on reports, the doorman that night allegedly never asked the two victims for their IDs; nor did any of the wait staff, or anyone affiliated with Acme, request that the two show them their identification. This is according to the Annapolis Police Department’s attorney, Jefferson Blomquist, who added that apparently nobody in the bar’s employ ever asked the two about their drinking alcohol that night, prior to the fatal traffic accident.
Furthermore, surveillance video from that evening indicate that only Silva and the other victim, 20-year-old Craig E. Eney, Jr., bought liquor at the bar. An underage friend of Silva’s helped carry drinks, while a couple other underage friends received drinks while sitting at a table. One of the questions that this incident raises is where did the responsibility begin and end for the owners of the bar, their employees and the victims themselves.
Acme Facing Fines, Losing License for 2 Weeks, Patch.com, February 3, 2012