Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Community Coalition Meeting

The Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill & Carrboro invites you to attend a coalition meeting to discuss on-going community-wide efforts to combat underage drinking/drug use, as well as to share future strategies to address this growing public health and safety concern.

    The community coalition meeting is open-to-the-public. All citizens and stakeholders are encouraged to attend. (Please freely distribute this invitation.)

    The meeting will be held on:
    Thursday, November 3rd at 12 noon at Squid's Restaurant in Chapel Hill (located at 1201 15-501 bypass)

    A complimentary lunch will be served. Please RSVP to dalepratt-wilson@nc.rr.com by November 1st if you plan to attend so food can be properly arranged.

Dale Pratt-Wilson

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Roses & Raspberries

Dave Hart - The Chapel Hill News

  • Roses to Allison Finch, the Chapel Hill police officer who runs a program that teaches employees of bars and restaurants how to stay within the law when they serve alcohol.

  • The program is called BARS, for Be A Responsible Server, and it's a good one.

    Bartenders and waits bear a sober responsibility, if you'll excuse the pun, to serve only those people who are legally allowed to drink -- meaning people who are at least 21 and not already drunk. Sounds pretty simple, but on any busy night it requires a lot of judgment calls, made very quickly: Is this driver's license legit, or is it a good fake? Is that customer so tipsy that it's time to cut him off, or is he OK for one more?

    Given the consequences of bad calls on those decisions -- which can range from legal charges to the loss of a liquor license to the truly tragic, if a drunk customer gets behind the wheel -- it makes sense to give the people who make them some advanced training.

    That's what Finch does. She educates bar and restaurant employees about the law. She cautions them about employees drinking in the workplace. She shows them how to spot fake IDs.

    Finch and BARS perform a valuable service. Now if we could just get everybody to sign up for BARD -- Be A Responsible Drinker -- we'd really be getting somewhere.

    Spotting Fake IDs 101

    By LEAH FRIEDMAN, STAFF WRITER, The Chapel Hill News

    CHAPEL HILL -- Standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling wine cooler at Elaine's on Franklin, Police Officer Allison Finch pulled a plastic ID out of an envelope.

    It's her favorite fake.

    She uses the paper ID taped to a red, plastic YMCA blood donor card to make a point: Servers should ask customers to take their IDs out of their wallets.

    It was just one of the tips Finch, who runs the Be a Responsible Server, or BARS, program, shared Friday afternoon with about two dozen employees of the ritzy downtown restaurant.

    "I don't like to be there after people have made mistakes," she said.

    The talk was timely.

    On Oct. 5, an intoxicated driver employed by a downtown Chapel Hill bar hit a Carrboro woman and her guide dog, breaking the woman's leg and killing her dog, according to police.

    Finch, who was invited by Elaine's management to speak, said drinking on the job is one of the biggest problems in bars.

    "The minute you start drinking, you have to make sure you're not in a [restaurant] uniform," Finch said. "You can't [legally] do any sort of work. You can't walk into the kitchen or the office. You can't go anywhere a customer can't go."

    If the employee leaves the bar or restaurant intoxicated, it's a major violation of North Carolina's Alcohol Beverage Control regulations, she said. The establishment can face a suspension of alcohol sales.

    It's also illegal, Finch said, for an establishment to continue serving customers who are visibly drunk.

    Accepting fake IDs is among the biggest violations, particularly in Chapel Hill bars, Finch said.

    "We know people have fake IDs out there," Finch said. "If it looks credible, we are not going to hold you responsible. However, some of the IDs are really bad, and you are accountable for the bad ones."

    Bret Jennings, Elaine's chef and owner, said he invited Finch to help his employees learn the ABC laws and understand their responsibility to the restaurant.

    "People don't understand that it extends to me, the owner" if the restaurant is found in violation, he said. "They don't understand it can go beyond the scope of just someone getting drunk."

    Contact staff writer Leah Friedman at 932-2002 or leahf@nando.com