North Carolina law is pretty clear that it’s unlawful for anyone, including bartenders and retail clerks, to knowingly sell or give alcohol to an intoxicated person. (On a side note, it also is unlawful to sell alcohol between 2-7 a.m. in any place issued a permit from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. It also is against the law for anyone to consume alcohol in a bar or restaurant after 2:30, regardless of whether they purchased that drink before the 2 a.m. cutoff.)
So, you might ask, how do all of these laws get enforced and how do bartenders know when someone is already intoxicated?
According to the state’s ABC Commission, various agencies are responsible for enforcing the laws the ABC board creates. Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) is a division of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Local ABC boards can hire their own ABC officers or contract with local law enforcement agencies, and the sheriff’s offices or police departments also can designate an officer to enforce ABC laws.
In Wilmington, ALE officers and a group of officers from the Wilmington Police Department enforce ABC laws. It’s up to a bartender to decide whether a person is too intoxicated to deserve another drink, but sometimes signs that person is intoxicated aren’t apparent or don’t show up until after alcohol has been purchased.
And, as far as enforcement goes, it would take more resources than the city has to provide officers at each of the dozens of downtown bars and nightclubs to check whether intoxicated people are buying alcohol.
“There’s no way we can allocate the resources it can take to enforce that particular statute inside the business establishments,” said police spokeswoman Lucy Crockett.
Date posted: August 18, 2009
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