Restaurant Accidentally Served Toddler Alcohol Instead of Juice

By Britni de la Cretaz 06/20/17

The child was taken to the hospital where her blood alcohol level was found to be just under the legal limit of 0.08.

Small child drinking apple juice at a restaurant.

A family in Georgia found themselves in a potentially deadly situation when a restaurant accidentally served their 18-month-old daughter alcohol instead of apple juice. It wasn’t until they were leaving that the child’s father took a sip of the drink and his chest began to burn. He suspected it was alcohol and alerted the restaurant. After investigating the incident, it turned out that due to a case of mislabeling, the child, Aaliyah, had indeed been served alcohol.

Alexis Smith, Aaliyah’s mother, told 11Alive that they took their daughter to the hospital to make sure she was okay, because she was “a little off balance” and “not her usual self.” After being observed for a few hours, she was sent home. The hospital estimates that the child’s blood alcohol level was approximately 0.065, just under the legal limit of 0.08.

“I started crying at the restaurant,” Smith told 11Alive. “As a mom, it was very emotional. Alcohol is something serious.” Smith said it could have been much worse, but luckily they had declined to have the restaurant put the juice in their daughter’s sippy cup. “She would have been sipping on alcohol all day and possibly died,” she said. “I’m just lucky that my daughter did not consume the whole cup because she probably would not be here now.”

In 2011, a Michigan toddler was hospitalized after the 15-month-old was mistakenly served alcohol at an Applebee’s restaurant. In a similar mislabeling incident, the child was served alcoholic margarita mix instead of juice. "He was saying 'hi' and 'bye' to the walls," Dominic Wilson Jr.’s mother, Taylor Dill-Reese, told CNN. "He laid his head down like he was sleepy, then woke up and got really hyper." Wilson was taken to the hospital where his blood alcohol level was found to be 0.10. "They said if he had drank that whole cup he would have died," Dill-Reese said. The incident was deemed an accident by police.

A two-year-old in Asheville, North Carolina was accidentally served sangria at a Texas Roadhouse in 2015. "She was staggering and she was kissing everything," said the child’s mother, Tiffany Gilliam. "I had to rub her belly the whole night and she slept with us because I was scared that she might not wake up. That she'd choke on her throw up and not wake up. It was the most horrible feeling ever.” 

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.