Austintown bar cited for its role in cruiser crash

An Austintown bar has been cited in connection with the March 17 crash in which a vehicle hit a Niles police cruiser.

Agents with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Ohio Investigative Unit cited Split Level, 169 S. Four Mile Run Road, with two counts each of sale of beer to a person younger than 21 and furnishing beer to a person younger than 21.

Criminal charges also are possible, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Officials said the driver and two passengers were all under age when the vehicle they were in crashed into the police cruiser, which was parked on the side of McKees Lane.

As a result of the crash, Niles Police contacted state Investigative Unit agents to conduct a trace-back investigation to determine how the underage individuals received the alcohol. Subsequently, agents cited the bar.

“Bar employees need to understand they and their employer may be held liable for their part in serving individuals who are later involved in a crash,” Canton District Office Agent-in-Charge John Campbell said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was contacted to handle the crash and charged the driver, Matthew A. Stein, 20, of Vienna, with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to control.

The patrol reported that the driver’s blood-alcohol content was .177 percent. In Ohio, an individual who is younger than 21 is considered legally drunk with a blood-alcohol content of .02 percent or more.

The patrol also reported that possible criminal charges against the bar will be presented to the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office for its consideration. The Ohio Liquor Control Commission will be presented with the administrative charges once all criminal proceedings are completed, if they are filed.

Possible administrative penalties could include fines, suspension or revocation of the liquor permit.