At the American Legion in Shelby, Ohio, a bartender trying to do the right thing was fired for her noble act. Twyla DeVito went into work to find a regular patron belligerently drunk at the bar. When he left to get in his vehicle and drive home, DeVito called the police. The man was ultimately stopped and arrested with a BAC of 0.167, more than twice the legal limit.
DeVito says she was proud to work at the Legion post, though she now faces unemployment. Her boss went on record saying that he agreed that what she did was the morally right thing to do. He went on to say that, if all his Legion customers have to worry about police cars waiting for them when they go outside to leave, his bar would be empty, which would ultimately cost him his business. He said letting her go was nothing more than a business decision.
DeVito stands by her decision, saying she would do it again. The question now remains, was the firing legal? There are arguments to be made on both sides. The main issue at stake is what took place before the patron left the bar. When DeVito arrived at the Legion that night, she said the man was clearly overly intoxicated, yet when he ordered another beer, she served it to him.
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Continuing to serve someone who is clearly over-intoxicatedis against the law, as one arrest in Texas recently proved. In that case, undercover officers were at a bar one night and arrested a woman after she over-served one particular patron. Some are arguing that it was DeVito’s legal obligation to avoid aiding the patron in further intoxication.
They are claiming that she could have become the star witness for the prosecution against customers of her own bar, if any drunk driving lawsuits were brought against them. Proponents of this argument say that she should have called a taxi, or his wife or family to come get him so he didn’t drive, not the police.
On the other hand, Ohio is one of 16 states in which the rate of drunk driving and consequent injuries and fatalities is actually increasing. Every other minute someone is seriously injured in a drunk driving crash, and every half hour, someone is killed. The fact remains that the patron chose to get behind the wheel with more than twice the legal amount of alcohol in his system, and he could have inflicted major harm on or killed innocent bystanders had it not been for DeVito’s actions.
In interviews with local police officers, they stated that they do not believe the bar owner’s actions were justified. The Police Chief said DeVito was unjustly punished for doing the right thing. DeVito stated that she is thankful that her job was the only thing lost that night.
Unfortunately, firing bartenders for having to deal with unruly customers happens throughout the country, even in the most upscale establishments. In 2012, a nationally-famous bartender at PJ Clarke’s in Manhattan was fired for asking an extremely intoxicated patron to leave.
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The bartender, Doug Quinn, noticed the patron harassing female customers and called him over, asking him to behave. At this request, the patron became angry and verbally abusive, which is when Quinn told him to leave and asked his general manager for assistance. The GM instead brought the customer to the back, bought him dinner, and gave him a t-shirt. Later that evening, Quinn was told by another manager that he had been fired.
This came as a surprise not just to Quinn, but to New Yorkers throughout the city. In 2010, the New York Times labeled him the “bartender of your dreams” in a profile article. Quinn is currently looking to open his own lounge in the city.
Car accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm commend the efforts of Twyla DeVito for taking a dangerous citizen off the streets. Deaths and injuries from drunk driving are completely preventable, and all measures should be taken to save the lives of innocent Americans. If you or someone you love was seriously injured or killed from a drunk driver, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation for you medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.