The Carbondale Local Liquor Commission fined a local bar for having a 13-year-old inside the establishment during business hours.
The commission found Stix Bar, LLC, guilty of permitting a person under 19 to enter and remain within the licensed premises while in possession of an alcohol beverage on or about July 26. The commission fined the establishment $1,433.49.
Stix was also charged with two other accounts of allowing persons 18 and younger in the establishment on the same night, and failing to verify the age of those persons. Stix was found not guilty of those charges. The Hearing Officer, City Manager Gary Williams, said the city failed to meet its burden of proof, and failing to verify the age of persons is a duplicative charge.
At the council meeting on Oct 17, Stix’s attorney, Mike Wespiec said this client is not contesting the charges, saying the facts stand for themselves. He said the 13-year-old girl came in through the back door of the establishment where people smoking cigarettes stand while outside the bar. He said she found a wristband somebody else threw away and tied it onto her own wrist and entered that way.
During the hearing on Sept. 14, Carbondale Police Officer Zach Street said he witnessed the underage girl with an alcohol drink in her hand. He said she didn’t look 21, so he approached her at which time she told him she didn’t have any identification. He said after some initial attempts to deceive the police, the girl became nervous and admitted her date of birth.
Wespiec asked for a reduction in the fine to $500 because of the steps taken since the incident. He said people have been fired in response to the incident.
“It was a big crowd that evening,” Wespiec said. “And it doesn’t excuse the presence of the minor on the premise, but it certainly makes it more understandable.”
Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said he knows the bar is typically busy on several nights. He wanted to know how the bar will prevent this from happening in the future.
Wespiec said the bar “cards hard,” uses different colors of wristbands and all the bartenders have BASSET training.
“He doesn’t want to come before you because there was a 13-year-old, 14-year-old or even an 18-year old in the establishment,” he said.
Councilman Jeff Doherty made reference to the fact the juvenile had a drink.
Wespiec maintained there was no evidence as to how the juvenile obtained the drink or how long she had the drink in her possession. He said there isn’t any evidence as to what the security staff was dealing with at the time she obtained the drink.
The hearing transcript reflected the juvenile told Street a friend got her the drink and didn’t accuse a bartender of serving her.
At the end of the hearing, the council upheld the hearing officer’s recommendation to find Stix guilty of permitting a person under 19 to enter and remain in the bar. The fine was also upheld at $1,433.49.