City Beer Board Penalties Getting Tougher After Mother Of Son Killed By Drunk Driver Makes Plea

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - by Gail Perry

The Chattanooga Beer Board is attempting to find some consistency in the penalties it issues for violations of the city’s beer code, while maintaining the ability to handle each case individually.

At the May 15 meeting of the beer board, the founder of 1N3, Tiki Finlayson told the board her son had been killed by a drunk driver. The organization’s name is derived from the fact that one in every three people is impacted by a drunk driver. The group strives to change that statistic.

Her appearance at the board meeting has had an effect of the punishments issued by the board.

 By the June 5 beer board meeting, board member Christopher Keene had researched consequences of beer code violations that other municipalities in Tennessee give for first offenses and found that many issue 30-day suspensions.  The Chattanooga beer board for the most part has issued three-day suspensions for the same offense.

At both the May15 and June 5 meetings, the beer board was presented with six violations found during compliance checks made by the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County Coalition. Mr. Keene stated that with the three-day penalties, “no one was listening.” On the 15th, first offenses received seven-day beer permit suspensions, second offenses got 14 days and a 30-d-ay suspension was given for a third offense.

At the meeting held Thursday, this change appeared to be having the desired effect. Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins said that 15 compliance checks had been made the night of June 12 and just two businesses had sold beer to a minor.

On Thursday, the owner of Top of the Line Tobacco Mart, 424 E. M.L. King Blvd., appeared at the beer board on a first-time offense for selling beer to a minor despite asking to see an ID. The owner admitted that he and the clerk at the time made a mistake and said both were registered to get TIPS training. Board member Andre’ Harriman made a motion to revoke the license for 30 days saying that the function of the board is to protect the public and not the business, and they need to know that “we mean business.”  Though the majority of the board expressed the need to send a message, they also felt that going from a penalty of seven to 30 days was excessive, and voted to suspend the license for seven days beginning June 26.

 All the board members considered the violation made by Shiv Food Mart, 631 Signal Mountain Road, as a “flagrant violation.” Two underage buyers were sent into the store separately, about 20 seconds apart. The sale of beer was made to both despite the clerk looking at the driver’s license of each. One license was outlined with a red box and the other was formatted vertically, both methods to signal that the owner is under the age of 21. Mr. Keene questioned what would have happened if 10 underage buyers had come into the store. The vote was unanimous to suspend this license for 30 days beginning June 26.

On March 25, Big K-Mart, 909 Dodson Ave., sold a beer to an underage, undercover buyer without checking an ID or even asking for an age. The buyer said that the clerk had not asked for ID from any of the customers in line ahead of him. This is the second time this violation has been on the agenda and no representation was sent to the beer board meeting, nor was there a request to pass the case to the next one. The board proceeded with the hearing and decided to revoke the beer license immediately. The police will deliver a letter from the city attorney’s office to the business in the way of notification.

Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman suggested that the board think about various offenses in order to set up some structure for penalties. He said that he favored flexibility to deal with each on a case by case basis, but would like to establish ranges of time for the different violations. He said that a meeting would be set up on a Thursday that the board does not meet, and it would need to be advertised as a public meeting. He said that most of the cases that have gone to trial had been decided on the issues of consistency of the punishments.

After observing the entire beer board meeting, Tiki Finlayson asked to speak to the board. She told them that she was pleased with what she had observed at this meeting. She thanked them for taking a harder stance on beer sales to minors and for drinking and driving than she saw last month. Mr. Keene responded that “it helps for someone to come and tell us the real story.”

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BAGGETT, EMILY MICHELLE 14431 DAYTON PIKE SALE CREEK, 37373 22 Hamilton County PROMOTING MANUFACTURING METHAMPHETAMINE PROMOTING MANUFACTURING METHAMPHETAMINE BUTLER, NATASHA COLLEEN 816 ROANOKE AVENUE CHATTANOOGA, 37404 30 Chattanooga VANDALISM/MALICIOUS MISCHIEF CAMPBELL, CHRISTOPHER ... (click for more)

Appeals Court Rules Against WWTA In Lawsuit Brought By Apartment Complex Over $8 Monthly Charges To Units

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an apartment complex that sued the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (WWTA) over an $8 monthly charge per apartment unit for preparing private service laterals. The court overturned a granting of summary judgment in favor of WWTA by former Judge Jackie Bolton. The appeals court said American Heritage Apartments, ... (click for more)

It's Time To Insure Tennessee - And Response

Tennessee has a problem.  What is the value of saving the lives of 1,000 Tennesseans each year? That is exactly what can be expected if 176,000 Tennesseans gain health insurance through Insure Tennessee. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that expansion of Medicaid was associated with a 6% reduction in yearly mortality for people in the 34-65 age group. Statistically, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What About The Ashes?

I attended my fifth funeral in the month of January the other day and, while I wish a lot of my friends would hang around a little longer, I was amused by the conversation in the pew before the service began. The question was “ … then what do you do with the ashes?” More and more people are being cremated and asking their loved ones to scatter their ashes -- more properly called ... (click for more)

Cleveland Advances To AAA Finals; Bradley Loses, 41-35

(Story will updated following the championship match)  FRANKIN -- It will be another championship match between the Cleveland Blue Raiders and the Wilson Central Wildcats for the Class AAA State Duals Championship here at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center. Cleveland advanced with a methodical 48-18 win over Beech while Bradley built a 17-6 lead early, only ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Finishes Fourth In A-AA After Loss To Alcoa

FRANKLIN -- Notre Dame's wrestling team came to the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center ready to fight Saturday morning and it took all of 32 minutes to eliminate Martin Luther King by a lopsided 70-12 final score. It took just a little bit longer in the second round, but the Fighting Irish prevailed in that one as well with a 47-27 win over Greeneville, setting ... (click for more)