Tuesday, December 23, 2008

AB&T Stings in South Florida


I have recently learned that AB&T are running underage drinking stings throughout South Florida. Although this is nothing new, it seems that the “underage” girl that they are using this time looks 25 years old. Most of us have taken the Responsible Vendors class at least once. Some of us, who have made the restaurant business our career, have taken the class so many times we could teach it. Responsible Vendors tells you that you should card every person that looks under 35. I wish that we all had the time every time to do just that. However, five deep at the bar on a Saturday night it becomes almost impossible to card everyone for every drink that is served. Many times we rely on Security to spot and stop the underage patrons at the door. But this was not the case in Broward just a few weeks ago.

A Broward County Gambling establishment (to remain un-named) was the host to Florida’s AB&T team in the end of September of 2008. A 19 year old Girl, “dressed to the nines” and over six feet tall, apparently ordered and was served drinks by every single bartender working that night. All ten bartenders were given a “Notice to Appear” for violating Florida Laws on serving the underage.

Apparently the Girl was not stopped or carded by security at the door or at any of the other check points within the casino area. She was able to engage and order drinks from ten different bartenders apparently paying for them with cash. After her rounds were done, the backup AB&T officers closed down the establishment and met with all of the bartenders and issued them citations. What remains to be established is whether the bartenders were so remiss in carding the “underage” Girl that they violated Florida law.

Florida law state that “the appearance of the person was such that an ordinarily prudent person would believe him or her to be of legal age to purchase or consume the alcoholic beverage” is not by itself a total defense. However, the defense of entrapment can be considered as a total defense or a mitigating factor by the court and the maximum fine of $500 reduced if the defendant is found guilty. It is highly unlikely that any first time offender would face any jail time for serving an underage person. If the threat of jail time is removed by the judge, then so is the right to have a public defender represent you if you cannot afford an attorney.

For more information on this issue, and to have an attorney consider the facts of your individual case, please contact our law firm.

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