Tiffany’s Liquor License To Be Sold after DWI Deaths
A Toms River restaurant must sell its liquor license within the next two years after three customers who, according to the state Alcohol Beverage Commission, were visibly drunk, allowed to keep drinking and then got into serious or fatal accidents.
License owners Bruno D'Uva, Sr., Bruno D'Uva Jr. and Lisa Barna agreed to divest their interests in the license by July 24, 2015, and pay fines totalling $200,000, according to information from acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman's office.
They did not contest charges that their bartenders served noticeably intoxicated customers in three separate instances. Two died and one was hurt in separate drunken-driving crashes after leaving the restaurant on Route 37.
State ABC regulations prohibit licensed vendors to sell alcohol to anyone actually intoxicated or appearing to be so.
In a prepared statement, ABC Director Michael Halfacre underscored the responsibility of bartenders, bar owners and restauranteurs to monitor their patrons' drinking habits. "Keeping a watchful eye and cutting off patrons may not seem like good business at the time," said Halfacre, "but it is in the long run. Intoxicated patrons become intoxicated drivers, and those drivers can become tragedies."
On May 12, 2010, Kelly Walck, then 40, died when the car in which she was riding slammed a utility pole on Route 37 in Toms River. Police say that the driver, Laura Nelson, and a passenger, David Sharrer, each registered blood alcohol content levels more than three times the legal limit to drive, which is 0.08.
Nelson is midway through a four-year sentence for vehicular homicide. In a sworn statement, she admitted drinking with Walck and Sherrer at Tiffany's for about an hour and a half.
On July 23 of the same year, Toni Lebert, then 31, died when her car collided with a NJ Transit bus on the Garden State Parkway at about 1 AM. Police say her blood alcohol content was .255, again about three times the legal limit in the state. Witnesses said that she had been drinking in the restaurant for almost three hours, and drove to her boyfriend's house prior to the crash.
On November 9, 2006, the motorcycle driven by Frederick Voss, then 43, collided with a car on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, leaving him severely injured. Police reports say the crash occurred shortly after leaving Tiffany's. Voss was later arrested for driving while intoxicated, registering a blood alcohol content level of .196.
Halfacre said ABC and local law enforcement pinpoint and investigate licensed establishments when patterns of DWI arrests develop among drivers who admit having patronized the bars or restaurants before being stopped or crashing.