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.