Agreement reached in Basalt bartender’s case | AspenTimes.com

Agreement reached in Basalt bartender’s case

An agreement has been designed to lead to the dismissal of a misdemeanor charge against a Basalt bartender who allegedly had served a drink to a woman who was later struck and killed by a vehicle but also had found her a safe ride home, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Donald "Blake" MacDougal, 50, co-owner of Stubbies Sports Bar and Eatery, made his first appearance in Pitkin County Court on Tuesday since being cited Aug. 21 for the "sale or service of alcohol beverage to a visibly intoxicated person" by the Liquor Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Under terms of the agreement, MacDougal and his staff at Stubbies will attend a TIPS Alcohol Training session. If he complies, the misdemeanor will be dismissed, his attorney, Jeff Wertz, told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely.

Wertz said he and 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia arranged the agreement last week. Caloia isn't prosecuting the case but said after the hearing that she felt it is appropriate for a disposition that doesn't require MacDougal to enter a guilty plea. In many cases there is a deferred judgment when a defendant enters a plea but is removed from the person's record if negotiated conditions are met. In this case, MacDougal didn't have to enter a plea prior to the case being dismissed, Caloia said. That assumes compliance with the conditions.

DA Sherry Caloia said she supported the agreement “because of the actions MacDougal took to prevent (Kania) from driving. That went a long way to offset him serving her a drink.”

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Caloia said she supported the agreement "because of the actions MacDougal took to prevent her from driving. That went a long way to offset him serving her a drink."

Fernandez-Ely accepted and endorsed the approach. "It sounds like a good resolution," she said.

She scheduled a hearing for Dec. 16 to consider dismissal of the charge.

Wertz indicated Stubbies will host a TIPS training session on premise and make it available to employees of other bars. Caloia said it isn't required that Stubbies host the alcohol-training program, just that Stubbies employees take the class.

TIPS is a long-running program that teaches servers at bars and restaurants responsible alcohol service. A similar class is offered for employees of liquor stores. Many government entities require TIPS attendance as a condition of receiving liquor licenses.

The website for the TIPS program said it is "designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking and drunk driving by enhancing the fundamental 'people skills' of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol."

The Liquor Enforcement Division cited MacDougal for serving one vodka drink to Kathryn Kania on July 10. He allegedly told investigators he could tell Kania was intoxicated when she came in at about midnight.

MacDougal prevented Kania from driving by taking her keys and calling 911 to report an uncooperative customer when she tried to leave with the car. He canceled the call for police officers when Kania agreed to accept a ride from a sober driver.

Kania was killed at about 2 a.m. July 11 after she was struck while standing on Highway 82 a short distance from her home in Willits. Investigators with the Colorado State Patrol suspect she was trying to return to Basalt to retrieve her car.

scondon@aspentimes.com