Alcohol Commission hops on Toad’s Place

Nicole Celli

Partygoers at Toad’s Place in New Haven were disrupted when the nightclub was raided by police last Saturday night.

Officers from both the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission and the New Haven Police Department raided the club for approximately half an hour, after finding underage drinking and possible use of fake identification.

“All of a sudden, the lights came on and the music stopped,” junior Tisha Parris said.  “We didn’t know what was going on until we saw men with coats that had “Liquor Control” on the back.”

It was also Alumni Weekend at Quinnipiac University, and Class of 2009 graduate Brett Gross said Toad’s was as packed as he had ever seen it.

“By the time we left Toad’s, which was probably 10 minutes after we realized what was happening, it seemed that maybe 40-50 percent of the people there before the raid had left,” Gross said. “When we walked out, the line at the front door was still as long as it was when we got in.”

Approximately half an hour after the raid, the music returned and the party resumed.

Penalties for the incident are currently unknown. However, the famous nightclub could face fines and possibly get shut down.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Toad’s Place has gotten in trouble for serving minors.  A raid in November 2005 resulted in a $90,000 fine and a 90-day suspension.  Prior to that, a raid in September 2001 resulted in a $25,000 fine and a week suspension.

Toad’s Place owner Brian Phelps said in a recent Yale Daily News article that the club may be safe from penalties if underage drinkers had used false identification.

The article also stated that under Connecticut State law, “businesses that sell alcohol and use “transaction scan devices” to screen identification cards — as Toad’s does — may be exempt from state penalties as long as the devices read fake IDs as valid and employees who physically check the cards exercise “reasonable diligence” in attempting to confirm their validity.”

The New Haven club scene has been a major topic of discussion since a proposal out of City Hall last week suggested that anyone under the drinking age be banned from clubs that serve alcohol.

“I’m sure Toad’s got a lot more business after becoming 19-plus,” Parris said.  “If underage people were banned from night clubs, I don’t think any of them would be in business for too long after.”