Posted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:00 pm Post subject: should I pay for somebody else breaking the law?
I am a bartender and I have only been doing this for about 3yrs. I worked at a bar where it was pretty much like the show "Cheers" were everyone that came in there were, for the most part, regulars. Everyday the same people were there and you almost became family. One day I went to work and saw the same faces as usual, But this day would be very different, a girl will die. This girl had came into the bar many times. She was also carded many times but now she is a well known face. This girl was there before I started my shift and yes I served her. Later that night I cut her boyfriend off and they left shortly after. She ended up crashing and she did not make it. The police do not know if she was driving, they do not even know what her blood alcohol level. The boyfriend did live but does not remember. I later found out she was only 19 yrs old. She was just a child. She had given us her sisters ID. Her sister was 24. This girl that died had worked at a bar and was very comfortable in the bar scene and did not give us any reason to think she was not who she said she was. Three Bartenders got a ticket for serving an underage person. The bartender that served her first that night made an agreement to pay a redosed fine. The bartender that worked with me and myself are fighting it and are going to go to court. I know this girl, and it is hard to talk about it. I will have to live with the fact that this happend and to a great person. Unfortunatly, I can not change what happend to her, but I did my job. That day we did not card her, so do we have to card someone , even if we seen them many times, every time they come in? Please help me with any info. that might help me.
Joined: 30 Sep 2005 Posts: 10 Location: New Jersey, USA
Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:54 pm Post subject:
Bartenders/servers/bar owners all are responsible in cases such as this under a legal concept known as strict liability. This basically means it is your fault no matter what.
However, if you are able to prove that you made every reasonable effort to ensure this person's identity and prevent underage sales, that can help you form a defense to reduce your liability. Very rarely do cases like this end up with the bartender winning. One exception would be if this individual paid to have false id made for her and it reasonably looked real (this would be an intentional act on her part for purposes of fraud).
It's very difficult to fight this kind of thing in court, so I would suggest you at least consult an attorney prior to going, simply so you can find out what your rights are. In most situations, you can plea down to a reduced fine. By fighting it, if you lose, you'll end up paying more than the initial cost of the offense (court costs).
One way you might be able to bolster your defense is if you (and maybe the rest of your bar/restaurant) sign up for TIPS certification (www.gettips.com). This is a program for servers/bartenders to prevent underage sales, overserving, etc. and teaches you how to document incidents and protect yourself from lawsuits.
Good luck to you. Let us know how this works out. _________________ "The pen is mightier than the sword; but the foot is mightier than the ass!"--me
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