Bar owners under microscope

Effort to stop drunk driving

Establishments licensed to sell alcohol that do not do everything in their power to prevent drunk driving have caught the attention of the Liquor Licensing Board and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services.

Mr. Welds

Mr. Welds

Liquor Licensing Board Chairman Mitchell Welds said his board is very concerned about the increase in automobile accidents – especially fatal ones – this year. The RCIPS has said that alcohol has played a role in many of the accidents.

‘It concerns me that these people who are drinking and driving have to be getting [alcohol] from somewhere,’ he said.

The Liquor Licensing Law contains provisions that make it an offence for anyone to sell alcohol to someone who appears to be drunk.

In addition, the Law requires the licensee or agent of an establishment licensed to sell alcohol to ask any person who appears to be drunk to leave the premises, and to notify the police.

Mr. Welds pointed to section 42 of the Liquor Licensing Law, which states: ‘Whoever, being a licensee, disposes of any intoxicating liquor, otherwise than in accordance with his licence, is guilty of an offence.’

Although he stressed that he was not giving a legal opinion on the matter, Mr. Welds did say the Liquor Licensing Law appeared to give authority to licensees to stop serving liquor to someone who appears drunk and to ask that person to leave.

Mr. Welds does not believe, however, that all licensees are exercising the necessary diligence to ensure patrons are not drinking too much in their establishments.

‘I feel some premises are doing what needs to be done in exercising due diligence,’ he said. ‘But some are not monitoring this carefully.’

Mr. Welds admitted that the Liquor Licensing Board is limited by the Law in its response to offenders.

‘Certainly, the board would take some sort of actions,’ he said.

Although the Board can only suspend a licensee after it has been convicted of two convictions previously, there are some punitive actions that can be taken against bar owners who ignore the law.

The Liquor Licensing Board can place a licensee on probation for an offence relatively easily. Not only do establishments on probation receive negative publicity, they can also find it difficult to be granted special permissions from the board, like to extend their hours for special occasions.

In addition, Mr. Welds noted that there are also some punitive provisions in the Music and Dancing (Control) Law.

‘I think licensees have a responsibility under the law to do what they can to prevent drunk driving,’ Mr. Welds said. ‘They have a moral responsibility, too, to help prevent accidents.’

Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis said the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services is also very concerned about the number of people it detected driving under the influence of alcohol.

‘Whilst we welcome any opportunity to find out where people have been drinking and whether the licence holders had a duty to intervene at any point, drivers rarely cooperate or volunteer this information,’ he said.

‘To tackle this, we need to work in partnership with the licensing authority as well as with licensed premises.’

Mr. Ennis said the RCIPS would be ‘putting a lot of effort into raising awareness in this area’ over the coming months through the StreetSkill anti-drink drive campaign. That campaign launches 1 December.

‘In the meantime, any bar found to be failing to comply with regulations or neglecting its duty of care and responsibility will be dealt with firmly.’

The RCIPS also has a robust plan in place to curtail drunk driving during Pirates Week, which starts Thursday on Grand Cayman. Mr. Ennis said at the RCIPS quarterly press briefing recently that there had already been meetings with the Pirates Week Committee to discuss the plan.

Comments are closed.