I-Team: Lawmaker Working To Keep Convicted Drunk Drivers From Owning Bar

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — New legislation has been filed on Beacon Hill that would prevent convicted drunk drivers from owning bars after the I-Team caught a prominent Boston bar owner still driving despite losing his license as a result of three OUI convictions.

WBZ-TV I-Team’s Kathy Curran reports

“It’s terrible judgment and a perfect example of why we need to close that loophole,” said Sen. Steven Baddour (D-Methuen), the author of the bill.

The I-Team’s investigation into Jim Rooney, the Boston bar owner and repeat drunk driver, who the I-Team caught on video cruising along in his convertible Mercedes even though his license was suspended, exposed a loophole in state law.

Rooney is the owner of the Baseball Tavern near Fenway Park. He lost his license to drive until 2016, but his liquor license remains intact.

As the law stands right now, a person can hold a state liquor license if they are convicted of operating under the influence, even if they are a repeat drunk driver. A liquor license can be denied if a person has a drug conviction.

Baddour’s legislation is aimed at making sure the right decisions are made when it comes to serving liquor. He said it is a test people with an OUI conviction, especially multiple convictions, have already failed.

“Obviously anyone with multiple violations can’t make the right choice,” Baddour said. “Therefore the Commonwealth should be able to come in and say you shouldn’t own a bar or the license to operate it.”

Ron Bersani worked to toughen the state’s drunk driving laws after his granddaughter, Melanie Powell, was killed by a repeat drunk driver. He said a liquor license shouldn’t be granted to a person like Rooney, who continued to drive despite losing his license for driving drunk.

“If he has that little regard for the laws in his own conduct and behavior, then I would find it hard to believe that he believes the laws apply to him and his business,” Bersani said.

Baddour would like to revoke liquor licenses already held by convicted drunk drivers. If that is not possible, he said the licenses should be taken away when they come up for renewal.


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