OGDEN — The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is holding an Ogden bar partially responsible for letting a drunken customer get behind the wheel.
Just moments after leaving the club, that driver was involved in an accident that killed another woman.
The woman's blood alcohol level was 0.38 — nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08, according to a police affidavit. Investigators say other patrons at the bar noticed something was wrong, and the staff at the bar should have, too.
On Sept 1, Chelsey Raffield left Mi Tenampa Bar, 460 W. 12th Street in Ogden, about 1:40 a.m., the affidavit states.
“There was one phone call from someone that was inside the bar that was worried about her driving when she left,” said Troy Marx with Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies, or TRACE. “Then there was another call after from the parking lot, where someone said she almost ran over them, and then she followed them for a short distance and said that this person was not safe to drive.”
TRACE routinely investigates to find the source of the alcohol to see if there’s any liability for the provider of the alcohol that may have contributed to an incident.
Raffield, 26, was driving south on Adams Avenue in excess of 60 mph in a 25 mph zone when she ran a stop sign and hit a vehicle traveling east on 30th Street, the police affidavit states. The force of the impact instantly killed the 22-year-old driver, Elsa Alonso of Ogden.
Raffield had previously been convicted of DUI, and her ignition interlock device had just been removed 10 days before the fatal crash, court documents state.
On Feb. 27, she pleaded guilty to automobile homicide, a second-degree felony. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and being an alcohol restricted driver. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10.
Marx says it is routine for TRACE to look at who served the alcohol in a case like this. Because it is illegal in Utah to supply alcohol to someone who is obviously impaired, an investigation into where Raffield got the alcohol was conducted.
"If the person is served alcohol — whether they're at a party or an event, or a licensee that's serving them alcohol — and they get to that point where they're obviously impaired, it is a violation to continue serving someone who is obviously impaired,” Marx said.
Investigators talked to witnesses and the bar owner and reviewed video surveillance of the bar.
“The video surveillance of the bar we watched, along with the owner of the bar, and determined that she had been in the bar and drinking there, so it appears there was some liability in the bar,” Marx said.
Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was notified of the investigation. It took action, and the bar owner agreed to a 10-day suspension of his liquor license and a $2,000 fine, according to Marx.
“Hopefully, when things like this do happen, it will bring awareness to others that they need to be more diligent,” he said.
Several attempts to reach the owner of Mi Tenampa were unsuccessful.
The Weber County Attorney's Office will review this case for potential criminal charges as well.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company