By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Representatives of local breweries, bars, liquor stores and retailers were invited to attend a comprehensive presentation on the liabilities facing persons and businesses certified to sell alcohol as the peak financial period for South Padre Island commences. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Annual Spring Break Retailers Meeting took place last Tuesday at the South Padre Island Convention Centre. Several TABC representatives of the South Texas area, Audit and Investigation supervisors representing San Antonio and local code enforcement officials hosted the event.
The purpose of the annual meeting was to discuss public safety and the TABC presence on the Island conducting open compliance inspections.
“This year, I’m hoping for a very successful year,” said TABC Sergeant Michael Ramos. “We’re here to serve you. We’re employees of the State, and our goal is to have a safe Spring Break. We want all of these young men and young women who are going to be our future doctors and attorneys … to have a good time, but we also want them to go back to their school and continue on with their academics … It comes down to how we serve and the amount that we serve while their here in your bars and your restaurants.”
TABC Supervisor Brent Puente, representing the McAllen area, discussed critical legal issues and encouraged involvement in the voluntary program, Safe Harbor, which states that actions made by employees may not be attributed to the employer for specific violations provided certification so long as the legal criteria of responsible service is met and no more that three violations occurs within a 12-month period.
Agents will be patrolling the area looking out for improperly displayed signage, minors consuming alcohol and improperly reported sales tax on beverages. Those that only sell beer and wine are only responsible for collecting sales tax, as opposed to additional taxes by business serving mixed drinks. Businesses with cover charges are subject to sales tax as well.
“You have to have adequate staff on all sides to monitor the consumption and what’s going on in your business,” said Sgt. Puente. “You need to actively patrol because you’re ultimately still responsible for what goes on in there. Established policies and procedures are effective and relevant.”
Sgt. Puente also advised all businesses to provide proper training for servers to be observant to avoid serving individuals whom are obviously intoxicated. A number of multi-million dollar lawsuits were cited when drunken individuals were served at establishments and shortly after responsible for deaths or critical injuries, leaving the serving establishments held partially liable for failing to recognize the risks before serving additional alcoholic beverages.
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