TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) today announced settlements with two South Jersey bars charged with serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons who later caused fatal motor vehicle crashes in unrelated incidents.
In separate settlements with ABC, Alloway Wines and Liquors, Inc., which holds the liquor license for Alloway Village Inn in Salem County, and High Street at Burlington, LLC, which holds the liquor license for Brickwall Tavern & Dining room in Burlington County, will each have their liquor licenses suspended for 30 days; pay a $175,000 fine and a $300,000 fine respectively; and give up interest in their respective liquor licenses within two years. Brickwall Tavern & Dining room began serving its suspension on Monday, February 3, 2020. Alloway Village Inn will begin serving its sentence on September 4, 2020.
The settlements resolve charges filed by ABC in connection with three separate drunk driving crashes involving patrons who were overserved at Brickwall Tavern & Dining in 2016 and at Alloway Village Inn in 2013 and 2015.
State law prohibits licensed establishments from selling alcoholic beverages to any patrons “actually or apparently” intoxicated. According to experts, the vast majority of drinkers are “apparently intoxicated” at a Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) of .15%. In New Jersey, a BAC of .08% is the legal limit for driving.
“Establishments licensed to serve alcohol have a responsibility to ensure that patrons are not served to the point they are intoxicated or appear intoxicated. Failure to fulfill that responsibility can result in tragedy,” said Attorney General Grewal. “New Jersey is on the front line in the battle against drunk driving and that effort begins with ensuring that our bars and restaurants serve alcohol responsibly.”
“These cases illustrate why liquor licensees must be responsible in their service of alcohol to all patrons, not just drivers, said James B. Graziano, Acting Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. “Both of these bars not only overserved the drivers in these fatal crashes, in two instances they overserved the victims. These were patrons whose judgment became so impaired, they willingly got into cars driven by someone they knew had consumed considerable amounts of alcohol, which resulted in their deaths.”
Brickwall Tavern & Dining Room’s settlement resolves charges stemming from an incident that occurred on September 23, 2016.
According to police reports, off-duty Burlington Township police officer Justin Rodriguez, 25, had been drinking at the bar from 10 p.m. until 1:40 am. Upon leaving the bar, Rodriguez lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a pole on West Front Street in Florence Township at 2:10 a.m. Rodriguez was injured in the crash and his passenger was killed.
According to ABC forensic experts, Rodriguez’s BAC had reached .15% as early as 1 a.m., and Rodriguez’s passenger’s BAC was approximately .22% at the time she was served her last drink. In May 2017, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated. In July 2017 he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Alloway Village Inn’s settlement resolves charges stemming from two incidents, the first of which occurred on May 9, 2013.
According to police reports, Kenneth Furr, 30, of Woodstown, had been drinking at the bar from approximately 2:30 p.m. to approximately 3:40 p.m. before becoming involved in a fatal crash on Old Kings Highway around 4 p.m. Furr’s vehicle rear-ended a vehicle, which ultimately killed that car’s driver and passenger.. At the time of the crash, Furr’s BAC was approximately .31%. At the time he consumed his last drink at the bar, his BAC was .20%. In March 2014, Furr pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto. In May 2014, Furr was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The second incident involving Alloway Village Inn occurred on November 29, 2015.
According to police reports, after drinking at the bar from approximately 5 p.m. until midnight, Matthew Moore, 55 of Lower Alloways Creek became involved in a fatal crash on Waterworks Road. At approximately 12:45 a.m., the vehicle Moore was operating left the road and struck a tree. Moore was injured in the crash and his passenger was killed.
At the time of the crash, Matthew Moore’s BAC was between .17% and .23%. His BAC had reached .15% as of 10:40 p.m. At the time of his death, Moore’s passenger’s BAC was .19%. In December 2018, a jury convicted Moore of vehicular homicide. In March 2019, he was sentenced to three years in prison.