Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Rhino Liquor License Temporarily Suspended

File Photo: HUNTER MAIN/THE HOYA Rhino Bar and Pumphouse on M Street.
Rhino Bar and Pumphouse on M Street.

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board suspended Rhino Bar and Pumphouse’s liquor license for a five-day period spanning July 8 to July 12, after the bar allegedly served alcohol to an underage student in February 2013.

According to the ABC Board, on the night of the incident, Detective David Carter of the Metropolitan Police Department was stationed at the door to assist the bouncers with identification of fake IDs and to make arrests accordingly, as part of a MPD program called Cops in Shops.

Carter witnessed two female patrons walk past the line and approach the door staff. One of the door staff whispered in her ear, and the two females immediately left the establishment. Carter followed the two females on M Street, who admitted that they left because the door staff, which had allowed them to enter the bar on previous occasions, warned them of police presence.

The two females also told Detective Carter that most of the patrons at the bar were under 21. Detective Carter then entered the establishment and approached two other females in the bar holding alcoholic beverages whom he thought looked young. One of these females, a Georgetown lacrosse player holding a Bud Light, did not have an ID and confessed that she was 19.

According to bar owner Charles Britton Swan, Rhino was not serving Bud Light at the time and the lacrosse player must have snuck in through the back with her own drink. In his testimony, Swan asserted that Rhino does not sell Budweiser products, as the bar primarily purchases their beer through Premium Distributers and sells Miller products.

In addition to the suspension, the ABC Board also fined the establishment $3,000, as this was its second primary tier violation in two years.

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration categorizes violations into two categories: primary tier and secondary tier offenses. If an establishment undergoes five primary tier offenses within four years, its ABC license will be revoked. For five secondary tier offenses within four years, however, the establishment will just continue to be fined. The sale of alcohol to an underage person is a primary tier offense.

“A licensee and its employees are required to take steps reasonably necessary to ascertain whether any person to whom they sell, deliver, or serve an alcoholic beverage is of legal drinking age,” ABRA Public Affairs Specialist Jessie Cornelius wrote in an email.

Rhino Manager George Kennedy said that there will be stricter guidelines against the use of fake IDs, including a more thorough analysis of facial structure, age and authenticity.

“We’re never going to catch 100 percent, you know, depending on what it is, but you know, we do the best that we can,” Kennedy said.

He acknowledged that Rhino’s close proximity to Georgetown University puts it at high risk for underage students attempting to enter the bar.

“When you’re in the bar business, this sort of thing, you do the best you can, and you go from there,” Kennedy said.

The lacrosse player was not arrested because she was not caught presenting a fake ID, but rather with underage possession of alcohol, a civil offense.

“The use of fake identification and possession or consumption of alcohol by students under the legal drinking age of 21 are violations of the student code of conduct,” Georgetown spokeswoman Rachel Pugh wrote in an email. Disciplinary proceedings related to individual student behavior, however, remain confidential under the University’s student conduct process.

The establishment has filed an appeal against the ABC Board’s ruling, Kennedy said, and is currently waiting for a response from the appellate court.

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