Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Bar fined for serving client involved in fatal crash too much alcohol

By Mike Anderson, Deseret News

Published: Thu, April 3 7:40 p.m. MDT

 The owner of Mi Tenampa in Ogden agreed to pay a $2,000 fine and receive a 10-day suspension of its liquor license following an investigation into a September 2013 fatal crash. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is holding the bar partially responsible for letting a drunken customer get behind the wheel.

The owner of Mi Tenampa in Ogden agreed to pay a $2,000 fine and receive a 10-day suspension of its liquor license following an investigation into a September 2013 fatal crash. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is holding the bar partially responsible for letting a drunken customer get behind the wheel.

(Michael Anderson, Deseret News)

OGDEN — The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is holding an Ogden bar partially responsible for letting a drunken customer get behind the wheel.

Just moments after leaving the club, that driver was involved in an accident that killed another woman.

The woman's blood alcohol level was 0.38 — nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08, according to a police affidavit. Investigators say other patrons at the bar noticed something was wrong, and the staff at the bar should have, too.

On Sept 1, Chelsey Raffield left Mi Tenampa Bar, 460 W. 12th Street in Ogden, about 1:40 a.m., the affidavit states.

“There was one phone call from someone that was inside the bar that was worried about her driving when she left,” said Troy Marx with Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies, or TRACE. “Then there was another call after from the parking lot, where someone said she almost ran over them, and then she followed them for a short distance and said that this person was not safe to drive.”

TRACE routinely investigates to find the source of the alcohol to see if there’s any liability for the provider of the alcohol that may have contributed to an incident.

Raffield, 26, was driving south on Adams Avenue in excess of 60 mph in a 25 mph zone when she ran a stop sign and hit a vehicle traveling east on 30th Street, the police affidavit states. The force of the impact instantly killed the 22-year-old driver, Elsa Alonso of Ogden.

Raffield had previously been convicted of DUI, and her ignition interlock device had just been removed 10 days before the fatal crash, court documents state.

On Feb. 27, she pleaded guilty to automobile homicide, a second-degree felony. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and being an alcohol restricted driver. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10.

Marx says it is routine for TRACE to look at who served the alcohol in a case like this. Because it is illegal in Utah to supply alcohol to someone who is obviously impaired, an investigation into where Raffield got the alcohol was conducted.

"If the person is served alcohol — whether they're at a party or an event, or a licensee that's serving them alcohol — and they get to that point where they're obviously impaired, it is a violation to continue serving someone who is obviously impaired,” Marx said.

Investigators talked to witnesses and the bar owner and reviewed video surveillance of the bar.

“The video surveillance of the bar we watched, along with the owner of the bar, and determined that she had been in the bar and drinking there, so it appears there was some liability in the bar,” Marx said.

Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was notified of the investigation. It took action, and the bar owner agreed to a 10-day suspension of his liquor license and a $2,000 fine, according to Marx.

“Hopefully, when things like this do happen, it will bring awareness to others that they need to be more diligent,” he said.

Several attempts to reach the owner of Mi Tenampa were unsuccessful.

The Weber County Attorney's Office will review this case for potential criminal charges as well.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

Recommended
1. I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Provo, UT,
April 3, 2014

People will surely say "It was his choice to drive, not the bar's."

They are right, but...

It was the bar's choice to serve more alcohol than the law allows for.

We can't ignore that.

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A drunk or "buzzed" guy may not be fully able to say "it's time to stop" but a sober staff have no inhibiting factor at all. It's the law for a reason- not to micromanage, but to preserve freedom where the ability to choose is under fire.

If you can't serve responsibly, you shouldn't be in business. If you can't drink responsibly, you should have a license to drive. Personally, I feel like there is no such thing as "drinking responsibly". But I am willing to compromise. But compromise requires people to obey the law. Compromise isn't logically possible with a "do whatever I want" attitude.

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Alcohol doesn't kill people. People kill people.

That's why our laws aren't legalizing alcohol, but what people do with it because they were reckless in the first place. I tolerate freedom, but not the freedom to endanger others as a drunk.

2. one old man
Ogden, UT,
April 3, 2014

Good. We need to hold bars accountable for irresponsible serving.

3. I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Provo, UT,
April 3, 2014

Correction: I meant "That's why our laws aren't illegalizing alcohol", or rather- criminalizing.

4. play by the rules
SOUTH JORDAN, UT,
April 4, 2014

Let's keep loosening the the liquor laws; that's the ticket. If we just try to become more like everyone else everyone will like us no matter the consequences.

5. J-TX
Allen, TX,
April 4, 2014

This was a slap on the wrist. $2K and a 10-day vacation.

$50K and a month would have sent more of a message.