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Bar faces illegal-drinking charges

By Jim Haug
Herald Staff Writer

A patron at Orio’s Roadhouse “held his beer up high” and swore at Durango Police Sgt. Rita Warfield, telling her he had rights and was “(expletive) drinking, or something to that effect,” Warfield told the Local Licensing Authority on Tuesday while describing a lively bar scene after 2 a.m. July 31.

“People were playing pool, people were drinking and the jukebox was loud,” she said. “It was like it should have been 11 o’clock at night rather than two in the morning” when the bar was supposed to close.

Officers initially could not get any assistance from the staff members and had to go outside with one patron who was “getting out of control,” Warfield said. When Warfield tried to return inside Orio’s, “people were standing there, video-ing us. Everybody was pretty intoxicated, of course. I could not even get back into the bar.”

When she was eventually let back in by the bartender, the “majority of the drinks” had been cleaned up. The bartender told Warfield that he had managed the bar by himself that night and could not get people to leave when they were supposed to.

“I said, ‘You should have been closed and locked up by 2 o’clock,’” Warfield told the licensing authority, which regulates liquor and medical-marijuana businesses.

While the bar had stopped serving alcohol before 2 a.m., Warfield said “that did not matter, people were still consuming alcohol after 2 o’clock, which is a violation of the liquor laws.”

Based on her testimony, the board determined there was sufficient grounds for a show-cause hearing Oct. 23 on whether patrons were illegally drinking after hours, which could ultimately be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of six months jail time and/or a $5,000 fine.

The bar owners had initially refused Warfield’s request to view their surveillance video, but City Attorney David Smith asked that the video be shown “in Technicolor” during the October hearing.

Because the bar had nine different cameras each recording the time from 2 to 2:15 a.m., the board could watch more than two hours of video.

Paul Whistler, lawyer for the business whose legal name is the Liquor Pig Inc., told the board that the video will be “helpful” in proving his client’s innocence.

In other business, the board approved a change of location for Fired Up Pizza to move from 1050 Main Ave. to 741 Main Ave.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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