About the data
• The Journal-World requested a list of all citations issued by the ABC and law enforcement as part of several enforcement actions in Lawrence in 2012.
• 25 bars received a total of 92 citations for serving minors in 2012.
• The Journal-World also requested information for bars prosecuted by ABC in 2012.
• In 2012, the ABC prosecuted 14 cases, resulting in about $7,000 in fines. 20 cases are pending.
The following bars received the highest number of citations for serving minors in 2012:
• The Hawk: 14
• Bullwinkle's: 12
• Holiday Inn: 8
• Quinton's: 8
- Cases included violations given by ABC officers and local law enforcement during special actions.
Kansas penalties for bars that serve to minors (per minor)
• First offense: $500 fine
• Second: $750 fine
• Third: $1,000 fine
• Fourth: $1,000 fine and two weekend days’ suspension
• Fifth: $1,000 fine and four weekend days’ suspension
• Sixth: $1,000 fine and seven consecutive days’ suspension
• Seventh: $1,000 fine and 14 consecutive days’ suspension
• Eighth and beyond: $1,000 fine and license revocation
* Provided by the Kansas Department of Revenue. For penalty purposes, violations are counted over a four-year period.
Lawrence bars were cited more than 200 times for serving minors in the past two years.
But records obtained by the Journal-World show such citations rarely result in significant penalties.
In 2012, for instance, prosecutions by Alcohol Beverage Control, the state agency that handles such cases, doled out $7,100 in fines but did not issue any suspensions to Lawrence bars.
Under state law, several of the bars — cited and prosecuted dozens of times during the past several years — could have lost their liquor licenses but didn't.
"Some of the licenses are reaching the point where they're getting pretty severe," said Dean Reynoldson, of ABC.
But no one is sounding alarm bells, he said.
"I haven't had anyone express outrage or even concern that we're being lax in liquor licenses," Reynoldson said.
Application of laws
The Kansas laws and penalties for bars that serve minors look paltry when compared with other states. In Kansas, bars caught serving minors face a $500 fine for a first offense. Penalties creep up until the eighth violation, when a bar could potentially have its license revoked.
But in Nebraska, for instance, a bar would face license revocation by a fourth violation. In Oklahoma, it’s possible to face revocation after a first offense.
Just for violations in 2012 alone, four Lawrence bars had enough citations to face license revocation under the Nebraska law.
Even under the current penalty structure, Lawrence bars have had enough violations to warrant license revocation under Kansas law.
Reynoldson, however, said "we have not taken that approach," and, generally, bars are suspended and fined instead of revocations, even after they reach the the eighth violation.
But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen, he said. Three Lawrence bars — Abe & Jake's, The Hawk and the Phoggy Dog — have pending license revocation hearings scheduled for this year. Mike Logan, owner of Abe & Jake's, however, said he just purchased the facility and does not plan on operating the facility as a bar.
Jen Jordan, director of prevention at DCCCA, said bars can and should implement better approaches to preventing minors from drinking.
Jordan, who also works with the Draw the Line Coalition, a local alcohol abuse prevention group, said they hold training sessions for local bars centered on identifying fake ID's.
But Jordan acknowledged the challenges faced by bars, as today's youth are creative and technologically savvy when it comes to obtaining fake ID's.
"We've got a lot of ID's that are being bought online that look pretty good," said Jordan, adding that the Lawrence area also has a rotating crop of motivated students determined to get into local hotspots.
Scott Newell, owner of Phoggy Dog, one of the bars that has a revocation hearing scheduled this year, talked about one recent violation where an ID even initially fooled law enforcement officers.
"It's a battle," said Newell of monitoring the thousands of college-age students who show up at his bar every week. "We do the best we can do."