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Thirsty Turtle loses its liquor license in College Park

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

You likely have less than three weeks left to get your drink and dance on at the Thirsty Turtle bar near the University of Maryland in College Park.

On Wednesday night, the Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners voted unanimously to revoke the bar's liquor license. The bar could stop selling alcohol as soon as Nov. 23, unless the decision is appealed, the Diamondback student newspaper reported.

ThirstyTurtle.jpgThe Thirsty Turtle -- students call it "Turtle" -- has quite the rep on campus. It's known as that bar on Route 1 with sticky floors, loud dance music, cheap drinks and, as was charged at last night's hearing, lax carding at the door.

Turtle has gotten into trouble several times since it opened three years ago: In 2008, it was cited and fined for filling top-shelf bottles with cheaper alcohol. In 2009, it was cited and fined for selling to a minor. In September, the campus police chief set up an "integrity test," and the bar admitted two underage students who showed their under-21 IDs at the door. And in October, police tied the bar to a stabbing on Route 1 that involved three underage students who had been at Turtle that night.

Turtle owner Alan Wanuck and his attorney, Linda Carter, called the integrity test a "sting operation" that entrapped the bar, according to the Diamondback. During the hearing, Wanuck showed more than 200 fake IDs the bar had confiscated. Wanuck also said he purchased an ID scanner and changed bar policies, prosecuting students who use fakes and having bartenders re-card students who look suspiciously young, the Diamondback reported.

Commissioner David Daesok Son said the plan sounds like it should work. "But apparently it does not," he said, according to the Diamondback. "Whatever you're doing right now, it's not working."

The liquor board also received letters from U-Md., its Student Government Association and Catholic University that detailed incidents where underage drinkers from their schools had been hospitalized or involved in drunken altercations, according to the Gazette.

A second hearing for the Thirsty Turtle is scheduled for Nov. 10 to review a bar fight that turned into a stabbing down the street. There will also be a meeting Nov. 23 to review the license revocation.

You can read the full Diamondback article about the hearing, here. And you can read an article I wrote last month about Turtle, here.

Photo by Juana Arias for the Washington Post.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | November 4, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  Night Life  | Tags:  University of Maryland  
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Comments

Good Start! Now it's time to shut down the other bars in College Park that serve the under 21 crowd!

Posted by: 10bestfan | November 4, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Even though I had to wait until I was 21, I believe adults should be able to drink alcohol. Change the drinking age to 18. College Park needs more bars not less.

Posted by: smirkman | November 4, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

i agree with the second poster. drop the age to 18 now!

Posted by: destewar | November 4, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Determined college kids are going to find booze while they're underage...just inevitable.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | November 4, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The law says you need to be 21 in order to drink at a bar. So you should do so. Bars know the risk of not carding and allowing minors in to drink. I say make the extra effort to card and thoroughly check IDs to avoid fines, law suites, and being shut down. With so many young students being in a college town it is not only the law enforcements job to keep the area safe, it is also drinking and other establishments job. If the bar or restraunt cares about the community they will card people.

Posted by: bearde1 | November 4, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

If a man or woman is old enough to die for their country, they are old enough to drink.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | November 4, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

This is a joke. How many crimes do you think can be traced back to some sort of altercation that began at a bar? Under this rationality probably 90% of the bars in the US should be closed as well. Maybe instead of attacking a fine establishment like the Thirsty Turtle, we should crack down on the crime in College Park. I’m an alum from UMD, and I know first-hand how ineffective the Police are in College Park. College Park consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous campuses in the US, and it isn’t because it is the only place where 20 year olds can drink at a bar. The Turtle will be missed, and I sincerely doubt its closing will lead to any decline in underage drinking or crime in College Park.

Posted by: ntrail | November 5, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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