Chapel Hill Police Crack Down On Underage Drinking

Jul 30, 2015

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The Chapel Hill Police Department is getting help from the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) to check whether bars are serving patrons under 21.

The partnership began before 20-year-old UNC student Chandler Kania caused a car accident on I-85 on Sunday, killing three people.

Kania had been drinking at La Residence and He's Not Here before the crash. Both Chapel Hill bars have previous alcohol violations.

Christopher Carini, owner of Linda's Bar and Grill in Chapel Hill, said he is not worried about the crackdown because Linda's is strict about checking identification.

"It's just protecting people. You have to protect your guests so that you can protect yourself," Carini said. "There are rules and regulations that go along with having an alcohol permit, and you have to follow them. It's real simple. You have to just do it."

Carini said fatal crashes often involve people of legal drinking age, so he tells bartenders not to serve anyone who is visibly drunk.

Mark Senter, head of the state Alcohol Law Enforcement, said the agency only conducts random underage compliance checks at the invitation of a local agency.

"If a local agency conducts underage compliance checks on their own, we will report those to the ABC Commission for possible administrative action against their ABC permits, if they ask us to report them," Senter said.

Because violations could lead to fines or losing a liquor license, managers of other bars in the area say it is too risky not to be strict about checking IDs.

"We don't really let anybody use any IDs that are expired, or if there's anything wrong with it," Greg Delpozo, manager of Carolina Brewery on Franklin Street, said. "If it's ripped or the picture looks doctored in anyway, we just turn people down. We turn people down all the time."

Earlier this week, Kania was charged with:

  • three counts of second-degree murder
  • three counts of felony death by motor vehicle
  • one count of felony injury by motor vehicle
  • driving while impaired
  • driving the wrong way on an interstate
  • careless and reckless driving
  • driving after consuming alcohol as a minor
  • possession of alcohol by a minor
  • having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle

He was released from Orange County jail Tuesday after his family posted a $1 million bond.