Nobody wants bars and restaurants to get customers drunk and then turn them loose on the streets to drive and get into automobile accidents and kill innocent people. But what’s an establishment to do if employees realize they’ve ceased serving a relatively sober customer and are now just getting a drunk drunker?
Toss them out the door? Keep them inside until they sober up? Under the LC rules, doing either could bring the hammer down.
Case in point is the Tiki Lounge in Kihei. At the Apr. 6 LC Adjudication Board hearing they’ll be pleading not guilty to two counts of over-service.
The incident is vintage LC. Girl goes to bar with friends; girl downs two, maybe two and a half Tequila Cranberries; girl asks bouncer to help her get her friend’s ID that’s fallen through the floorboards; girl gets hysterical when bouncer says he can’t leave his post; girl spits in bouncer’s face; girl gets tossed.
That happened at the Tiki Lounge on July 2, 2005. “We served her two drinks,” said owner Gabriel Sallard. “Now she’s saying we over-served her. Maybe she slammed shots before she came in, I don’t know.”
The Tiki Lounge’s defense is simple: they got rid of her the moment she became demonstrably drunk, and the LC has no evidence that the girl was drunk when bar staff served her last drink. The department has circumstantial evidence, but in the past, that’s been more than enough for them to render a guilty verdict.
At press time, Sallard was still weighing whether to have legal counsel with him during the hearing, even though his not guilty plea means a trial that will pit his establishment against a deputy prosecuting attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Hawai’i. His dilemma is a common one: does he pay $3,000, $4,000 or more for a real attorney and still risk a couple grand in fines, or does he try to handle his defense himself and, at most, end up paying $2,000 if the Board doesn’t buy his defense?