RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) –
The N.C. ABC Commission on Wednesday approved a new punishment for La Residence, a bar and restaurant in Chapel Hill, after a UNC student drank underage there and then killed three people in a car accident.
La Residence had agreed to a new offer of compromise after the ABC Commission rejected the initial compromise in October. The case involves Chandler Kania, who was a Carolina student at the time of the accident in July.
The ABC Commission said La Residence can have a 50-day suspension of its alcohol license or a 14-day suspension and a $5,000 fine.
Syd Alexander, attorney for La Residence, said the establishement will pay the $5,000 fine and serve the 14-day suspension.
La Residence will lose its alcohol license beginning Dec. 18 and regain it at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1.
“We’re pleased to have it behind us. I think it is an extraordinary penalty, I think the ABC Commission is trying to send a message because of the terrible tragedy that occurred hours later,” Alexander said.
The previous compromise was a $5,000 fine or a 50-day suspension, which the commission felt was not a strong enough punishment for the bar.
The restaurant has lost a lot of business already due to the uncertainty of their alcohol license status, Alexander said.
It holds a lot of special events, such as wedding rehearsals and receptions, and patrons had to find another place to go because the restaurant could not guarantee it.
Alexander said it has not yet been decided what the restaurant will do during the 14 days it deos not have an alcohol license.
Alexander also said no evidence has been provided to them that La Residence sold any alcohol to Chandler Kania.
He said only one of Kania’s friends was able to buy alcohol once inside the bar. Kania and his four friend all had valid IDs of other people that looked like them and showed them to be of age.
“There’s just no way to guarantee that you’re not going to have people under 21 drinking when they go through that trouble. But we’ve taken, before this happened, what I believe to be extraordinary steps to try and prevent that,” Alexander said.
On Wednesday, ABC Commission chair Jim Gardner addressed the problems of underage drinking in the state.
“We voted on 123 cases today – 67 percent of those involved underage drinking,” Gardner said. “This needs to stop.”
Gardner added, “It is their responsibility, when they get a permit, to make sure no one under the age of 21 is served.”
“It’s clear that the commission is taking a strong position and wants to be sure that people are mindful of the laws,” Agnes Stevens, ABC Commission spokeswoman, said before the meeting.
La Residence was found negligent for serving Kania, 20, before he crashed his Jeep while driving the wrong way on Interstate 85 in July. Kania was a student at the University of North Carolina at the time.
That crashed killed three people, including a 6-year-old girl.
Police said Kania was also served alcohol at another Chapel Hill Bar, He’s Not Here. He’s Not Here has a hearing in front of an administrative law judge scheduled for the week of Jan. 25. The ABC Commission is recommending the bar surrender their ABC permits. The bar’s alcohol permits are still active and they can still sell alcohol leading up to the hearing.
- Reports detail underage drinking at UNC that led to deadly crash
- 2 Chapel Hill bars negligent in UNC student’s triple-fatal crash, lawsuit says
- UNC student in triple-fatal crash made anti-texting and driving video
- Kania’s blood-alcohol content was twice legal limit at crash
- UNC student in triple fatal gave fake ID to cops
- UNC student charged in I-85 crash near Hillsborough