Police Crack Down on Over Serving
Original Article Posted Jan. 29, 2010
Anchorage police warn they are cracking down on bartenders who over serve alcoholic beverages and on costumers who over drink after a local bartender is convicted of over-serving her patron.
The law which makes it illegal to serve a drunken person or even be a drunken person on a licensed premises isn't new, but many don't realize the act of being too drunk at a bar is a crime.
APD detectives were looking for alcohol violations when they arrested 22-year-old Rumrunner's Old Towne Bar and Grill bartender Melissa Rae Burttschell.
When undercover vice detectives conducted a sting at Rumrunner's in downtown Anchorage back in August, they arrested Burtschell for over serving 22-year old Jakub Burda, when detectives say he was showing obvious signs of intoxication.
Burda was arrested for being too drunk and later pleaded guilty; Burtschell went to trial and was found guilty this week.
"It's important for people to understand, that just because it's a bar doesn't mean that you have a right to go there and become overly intoxicated or what as the law defines as a drunken person," said Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker.
As for Rumrunner's, officials with the bar responded by reading a prepared statement.
"Rumrunner's prides itself in providing training and awareness to its bar staff to ensure that its customers who are served alcoholic beverages is done so in a safe manner and with customer safety in mind. With that being said, Rumrunner's finds that the evidence presented at the trial was inconclusive, speculative and at best circumstantial. Therefore Rumrunner's believes, that the conviction of our former employee is unjust, unfounded and therefore unfair. However unfair this ruling is, Rumrunner's will continue to train and educate its bar staff to care for its customer's well-being while they are enjoying a safe and fun atmosphere at Rumrunner's restaurants and night clubs," said James Henry, spokesperson for Rumrunner's.
Bartenders in Anchorage are required by law to carry a TAM, or Techniques of Alcohol Management Card, to show they are certified and know how to handle serving liquor.
"Look for signs of red eyes, slurring, stumbling, overly joyful at that point they should stop them at the bar. If they do get passed the door man we do another interview at the bar, ask how their night is going, just ask questions," Tiffani McNeill said, bartender for F Street Station.
Some bartenders who declined to go on camera, say they feel the undercover stings are unfair, but others think it will keep people in line.
"It will keep a lot of overly intoxicated people off the streets, it will be good. It's going to keep people in check," said McNeill.
Anchorage Police agree. They say over-serving is a huge problem in the city because it contributes to so many other crimes.
"DWI is just the tip of the iceberg. We see sexual assaults that occur when patrons have been over served," Parker said.
APD plans to continue to cut down on over serving by conducting more uncover alcohol violation stings in the future.
Anchorage police say both over serving and over drinking in public are misdemeanor crimes that carry up to a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine.
APD says the law does not set an automatic alcohol consumption charge limit for this, like a DWI.