Chapel Hill bars taking extra measures against underage drinking

Chapel Hill bars (WNCN)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Many Chapel Hill bar owners are reiterating to their employees the importance of checking IDs following lawsuits and potential punishments for two bars accused of serving alcohol to a 20-year-old before a deadly crash on Interstate 85 in July.

Previous coverage: Chapel Hill bar that served underage UNC student before fatal crash may lose ABC permit

The ABC Commission has recommended the bar He’s Not Here lose their alcohol license and they’ve suggested the bar La Residence have their license suspended.

This comes after former UNC student Chandler Kania and his friends were able to buy drinks at the bar even though they’re underage. Police say Kania then drove drunk and caused a wrong-way crash on I-85, killing three people.

Previous coverage: 2nd lawsuit filed against UNC student in I-85 triple-fatal crash

Kania used an older friend’s ID to get into the two bars. Some bar owners say they see a lot of real IDs being used by someone who looks completely different in the picture. Many forged IDs are confiscated as well.

Lindsey Ewing, the General Manager at Sup Dogs on East Franklin Street, said fake IDs seem to be getting more advanced.

“They’re getting really, really good,” said Ewing. “You have to be very cautious about what you check.”

Since Chapel Hill is a college town, some said it’s inevitable that students under 21 will try and get into the bars downtown.

Top of the Hill on East Franklin Street tries to avoid this by having strict policies in place for checking IDs.

“I think the idea of making sure you’re not targeting folks that are underage to begin with is a key component in terms of not actually running into those kinds of problems,” said owner Scott Maitland.

Previous coverage: 2 Chapel Hill bars negligent in UNC student’s triple-fatal crash, lawsuit says

Most bar owners require their employees to go through training on spotting fake IDs. The ALE holds classes several times a year to show employees what to look for. The importance of looking closely at IDs has been reiterated since the incident over the summer.

“It’s important to comply with the law and unfortunately recent events have shown that there is a level of maturity necessary in order to make sure people can enjoy themselves responsibly,” said Maitland.

“We always repeatedly tell our employees that they should always double check IDs,” said Ewing. “The consequences are really severe, whether it is something small or minor or something as far as having the ABC Commission getting involved.”

Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against He’s Not Here and La Residence, along with Chandler Kania and his parents.

The lawsuits claim the businesses have a pattern of allowing underage drinking. The suits say the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement branch “has been involved in multiple investigations in the past 18 months” of the two places selling alcohol to minors.

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