Monday, November 26, 2012

Important Information To Remember This Holiday Season

This week starts the beginning of a time we all enjoy celebrating – the holidays. It is during this time that having drinks and exchanging laughs with friends and family at parties or at the local bar happens daily.
We just want to make sure Ohioans remember a few points so it is a safe holiday season, one that you can think back on fondly, not regret.
·         Bartenders – please do not over-serve your patrons. Cut them off. It’s okay to say that they’ve had enough.  Take care of them by giving them water, salty foods and make sure they have a safe and reliable way home. Remember it’s your bar, it’s your responsibility;
·         Also, carryouts and bartenders need to continue to be on the lookout for underage drinkers who are attempting to purchase alcohol;
·         Remember if you are drinking, before you go out decide who is your sober driver;
·         Keep your drink in your possession and control at all times. If you think it has been tampered with it, don’t drink it. If another person is adamant that you take a drink – don’t. Don’t turn your back; and
·         Whether you are a patron or a member of the staff, if you see someone’s drink being tampered with or someone who was coherent in the last 20 – 30 minutes is suddenly disoriented, confused, suffering from dizziness, memory loss contact the authorities and attempt to keep the individual from leaving and secure the person’s drink.
We want all Ohioans to have fun, but be safe and responsible. It’s the holidays, it’s a time for joy, not for sorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Trouble With The Law... And Also Your College

In many of Ohio’s college towns, just off campus, you can find large parties any time of the year. But for cities like Athens and Kent, Halloween brings very large crowds from all over the region and the state. Many of those in the crowd are underage individuals with high hopes of getting drunk.
But we are asking everyone who is not yet 21, to not drink. Our agents will be present near campuses looking for alcohol violations, such as – but not limited to – underage drinking, fake ID, intoxication and drug use.  
Whether you’re visiting from University of Akron, Miami University, Ohio State or Bowling Green, or you’re a student from Ohio University or Kent State University, ramifications of a great road trip or a fabulous weekend out can end with more than a date in court, a fine and/or jail time.
Many times students who are charged with underage drinking and other violations do not know that their college or university may have checked to see if the weekend trip at another campus resulted in a court appearance. Many schools have the equivalent to a code of student conduct and often alcohol and/or drugs would be a violation of many of the codes. Student conduct staff will often cross check names from arrest reports to see if any match up with their students.
Halloween is a fun celebration, but it can also be a dangerous holiday when you add alcohol to the mix. We hope if you are celebrating Halloween, you are responsible and you know all the ramifications.  We want everyone to be safe. So please, if you’re not 21, don’t drink!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Human Trafficking in Liquor Permit Premises

Many of you may be thinking, “What on Earth does the Ohio Investigative Unit have to do with human trafficking?” It’s a understandable question, until you think about where the agents work each day. They are in and out of convenience stores and adult entertainment locations. Human trafficking is taking place all around us, but in these locations we know the victims are being used for labor and also sex.
There is a change in culture among police agencies. We are training our agents to spot victims of human trafficking and how to approach them. Members of our communities can also get involved by knowing the signs and contacting authorities if they feel human trafficking is taking place. Act quickly. Most victims do not stay in one location for long periods of time.
Here are the signs:
• He/she is not free to come and go as he/she pleases;
• He/she is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or paranoid;
• Appears malnourished;
• Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture;
• He/she is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present or to translate the conversation);
• He/she claims to be just visiting and is unable to clarify where he/she is staying; and
• He/she may be under 18 years old.
You can anonymously report suspected human trafficking to OIU at #677.

Don’t turn your back, ACT!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Don't Turn Your Back, ACT!

This week, we are launching a new program – Don’t Turn Your Back, ACT! There are two parts to this program.  Both use powerful images to illustrate our message that individuals can make a difference. We are implementing Don’t Turn Your Back, ACT! in central Ohio first. If the response is positive, we will move to other areas of the state.
Do you know where your drink is?
This is a message to remind bar and restaurant patrons that it only takes a second for someone to tamper with their drink. We want people, both men and women, to think about what could happen next. Sexual assault, kidnapping or robbery—each scenario is possible unless someone intervenes, grabs the drink and calls the authorities.
Taking action is the right thing to do. Remember to keep an eye on your drink and don’t drink it if you think someone has tampered with it. And, if another person is adamant that you take a drink, don’t do it. We also want people to remember this advice when attending house parties.
If you believe you could be a victim of drugged drinks, please report it. Tell a trusted person, get medical attention as soon as possible and call the police.
Your bar, your responsibility.
This is a message to reinforce to bar and restaurant staff members that it is their responsibility to make sure patrons are safe. Whether the patron has been at the bar all night or just got there, if a customer is intoxicated, he or she should not be served more alcohol. Bar and restaurant staff members also have a responsibility to make sure that customers get home safely and have someone to watch over them.
Bar staff should take note of sudden changes in customers’ behavior. If a patron, who has been coherent in the last 20 – 30 minutes, is suddenly disoriented, confused, suffering from memory loss, dizziness, drowsiness or nausea, contact the authorities, attempt to keep the individual from leaving and, if possible, secure the person’s drink.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tracing the Alcohol

Earlier this month, agents in our Akron/Canton district office cited two bars for serving two individuals who were both separately involved in serious or fatal crashes.
In one case, four young men were drinking at a local bar near Ashland. The driver of the car was of legal drinking age. He flipped his car, ejecting two passengers. The driver’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was .243. One of the two people ejected was hit by an on-coming car and died.
During the course of the investigation, we were able to prove the passenger who died, was underage and was served alcohol at the bar. We have cited the bar for serving and selling both beer and alcohol to the underage man.
In the other case, an 18-year-old driver hit a tree and then flipped her car. The driver was ejected from the car, but survived. She was drinking alcohol at a bar in Akron. Her BAC was .235. In Ohio, the legal limit for an underage driver is a BAC of .002.
Again, we determined the young woman purchased alcoholic beverages from the Akron bar. Not only was she underage, but she was intoxicated. The bar received administrative citations for serving and selling to her.
These are just two stories of bar staff serving someone who has had too much, or was not old enough to drink alcohol at all. Unfortunately, there are more. Bars have a responsibility to make sure their patrons are safe. They have a responsibility to make sure that patrons are getting home safely. They have a responsibility to make sure that everyone drinking alcohol in the bar is at least 21 years old.
There is also the responsibility to stop serving to an individual who is intoxicated, regardless how upset the customer may get. Give them water and snacks. Get them home safely. Make sure they will be taken care of once they are home. Just don’t let them drive and don’t let them be alone.
The Akron and Ashland cases highlight the life-and-death consequences of serving intoxicated and underage patrons. OIU will continue to investigate such cases. We also offer free staff training for liquor-permit establishments that want to learn more about how they can help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

As a parent, I know how important graduation is for your children and for you. It’s a time to reflect on the past but look forward to the future. It is also a time to celebrate your child’s achievements.

As we approach graduation, I ask all parents to celebrate their child’s accomplishments, but do so safely and lawfully.

Often parties are held at a home or at a rented facility. While many parties are quiet family affairs, in some situations parents may allow alcohol to be consumed, or they may not know underage-party goers are drinking. Keep an eye out for public intoxication and please do not allow anyone who has been drinking to drive.

Whether it is alcohol poisoning or a fatal crash, the repercussions of your actions could be huge, including but not limited to:
·         Anyone convicted of attempting to purchase alcohol as a minor, sharing in the cost, using false identification or furnishing alcohol to a minor may face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
·         Anyone under 21 years of age who is caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of higher than .02 percent can be arrested. If convicted the individual could have his or her driver license suspended for at least 90 days, up to a maximum of two years. Also, four points would be added to his/her driving record.

I encourage parents who are looking to throw their child a graduation party, to familiarize themselves with Ohio’s laws. Know the rules, know how they can impact your family and ask yourself… is it worth it?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome to the Ohio Investigative Unit blog! There are a lot of messages that we hope to get out to you and this is another means to do just that. OIU has been on Twitter for over a year and Facebook for over six months, so this is another step forward for us.

The agents have been really busy over the last few months working various college "fests" and parties throughout Ohio, but that does not mean that other operations have ceased. We are still hard at work on food stamp fraud cases, illegal sales operations and working with our liquor permit holders with our Alcohol Server Knowledge course. We have also worked with many municipal police departments during prom season with alcohol compliance checks.

Over the next several weeks, we will talk about graduation parties, music festivals and going back to college, to name just a few examples. Until then, please be safe, have fun, but don't drink if you are not 21.