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By William Henderson/ [email protected]
Thursday, December 2, 2004

Based on the last three years, police make more alcohol-related arrests in the five weeks between Thanksgiving Eve and New Year's Day than at any other time during the year.

Already, in the first few days after Thanksgiving, police have charged one man with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Last year, according to statistics provided by the police, of the 82 drunk driving arrests, 22 were made in the last five weeks of the year. That's 27 percent of the year's total.

Police Captain Neil Ouellette could not pinpoint one specific reason why so many of these types of arrests occur at the end of the year, but he did not rule out the holidays and the number of parties.

Ouellette said a mix of things contributed to the arrests police make, including residents reporting more erratic vehicular operation and officers on patrol observing and stopping risky behavior.

According to a State House News Service report, during the holiday season the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission dispatches investigators to check in on bars and restaurants to ensure employees are not over-serving patrons and to stop customers from drinking and driving.

Known as "Last Call," this operation targets bars identified as the last establishment to serve a convicted drunk driver and establishments with a history of intoxicated individuals. This operation focuses on preventing intoxicated individuals from getting on the road as well as deterring bar owners from serving the potential drunk drivers.

ABCC Chief Ted Mahoney said the investigators will take intoxicated persons "into protective custody or find them a safe ride home." After that, the investigators will go in and charge the bar.

"Our primary effort is to keep drunks off the road, " Mahoney said. "Our secondary effort is to deter bars from over-serving."

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve last year, ABCC investigators charged 12 bars with serving intoxicated patrons and took 30 individuals into protective custody or provided them with a ride home.

Though the ABCC is the overseer of the state's alcohol-related issues, locally the Board of Selectmens often are tasked with deciding whether a restaurant or bar has over-served its patrons. If the board decides such over-serving has taken place, it may suspend or revoke the alcohol license or assess a fine based on an establishment's liquor sales.

Board members are scheduled to announce at their Dec. 7 meeting whether an incident that occurred this past Sept. 11 at Seaquels was the result of alcohol over-serving.

Stemming from this Sept. 11 incident, police charged Kristen Ferlo, 27, and Marc Ferlo, 27, both of 6 Continental Court, Woburn, and Roger Karter, 39, of 12 Aberdeen Ave., Peabody, with disorderly conduct. Police also charged Kristen and Marc Ferlo with resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer, and Kristen Ferlo was additionally charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, i.e., her shod foot.

Police Chief Stuart Chase told selectmen last month that these charges stemmed from what he and his investigating officers believe was an incident of over-serving alcohol, the second such incident allegedly occurring at Seaquels Restaurant, 175 Water St., in the last six months.

Though Seaquels has permanently banned both of the Ferlos from the premises, bar employees deny the couple were, in fact, over-served alcohol.

This incident followed five similar incidents of alcohol over-serving between Sept. 12, 2003 and March 1, 2004. At the time, selectmen decided to hold the bar and restaurant's liquor license in abeyance for six months.

Captain Ouellette advises residents to think ahead before consuming alcoholic beverages. Select a designated driver or arrange for public transportation or a taxi ride. Most local establishments, he said, will also arrange transportation if needed and assist in keeping the intoxicated person safe.
 
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