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Bartenders may now take rap for your drunk ass

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | January 19th, 2009

Next time you and your friends are out at any one of Ontario's bars, you may be cut-off before closing time.

On Monday, January 12 charges against the 16 Lake Joseph Club servers, the management team and executives were laid for over-serving Tyler Mulcahy, 20, Cory Mintz, 20, and Kourosh Totonchian, 19, who all died in a crash after leaving the bar on July 4, 2008.

Each one of the workers was charged with permitting drunken behaviour while continually serving alcohol to already intoxicated individuals.

According to a CanWest news service, the Audi they were driving left the highway, crossed the median, sheared off about nine meters of guardrail and landed on its roof in Lake Joseph.

According to Michael Hall, Manager at the Out Back Shack at Fanshawe College, if someone appears to be under the influence, they will not be allowed into the popular campus bar.

“I will specifically tell the servers that certain individuals cannot drink and the bouncers will follow them around if need be,” said Hall.

“I don't find it hard to cut people off. You explain it to them and we have the right to cut off anyone we see as undesirable.”

The charges that have been laid against the bar in Muskoka and its staff are uncommon, will serve as an indicator for future cases.

In 1973, the Supreme Court of Canada made a decision based on the Jordon House v. Menow and Honesberger case, which primarily concentrated on what you are supposed to do with a person who appears intoxicated.

The decision imposed a “duty of care” on commercial establishments who provide alcohol to protect intoxicated persons. This law lists that your responsibility reaches not only an intoxicated person, but to them potentially endangering others.

According to Frank Vanderkuyl, a Law Professor at Fanshawe College, the duty of care must make sure intoxicated persons get home safely. The bars have a duty to protect third parties.

While keeping an eye on guests is certainly possible, it is almost inevitable to keep track of all patrons who enter the premises of where alcohol is served.

Hall recommends to his staff they start a tab with their customers, and get to know them a little throughout the evening. This builds a relationship as the night progresses and the server can easily determine when to stop serving.

If the employees of the Lake Joseph Club are found guilty, they may face a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail. The club could also face a fine of up to $250,000.

Whether the trio arrived sober or a little tipsy at the country golf club may go unknown, there is speculation the three young men had an association with the staff that evening.

Nineteen-year-old Nastasia Inez Elzinga was injured in the crash but was able to escape the sinking car with minor injuries.

Investigation is on going.
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