Representative T.R. Rowe (R-123) and Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112) are introducing legislation this session of the Connecticut General Assembly which would increase the penalty for liquor stores and other properly licensed permittees when they sell alcohol to minors.
Current law prohibits sale and delivery of alcohol to those under 21-years of age and provides for a penalty of $1000, one year in prison, or both. The penalty for sale or delivery of alcohol to a minor via the Internet is $1500, 18 months in prison, or both. There is no provision for a mandatory revocation of a liquor license; however the Department of Consumer Protection is authorized to revoke liquor licenses for any violation of the Liquor Control Act.
“The establishments that sell liquor have an obligation to ensure that they are not selling to minors, and most of them do a good job at it” said Rep. Rowe. “In the instances where an establishment is lax or indifferent to selling to a minor, the current schedule of penalties isn’t appropriately tough.”
The proposed bill would increase the penalty for a permittee selling to a minor to a fine of $2000 and/or two years in prison, and $3000 or three years in prison for those selling via the Internet or through other means. A second offense would double those penalties, and a third offense would be a permanent revocation of the permittee’s liquor license.
“Of course, parents must be the first line of defense against underage drinking,” said Rep. Rowe. “However, that defense ought not to be undermined by establishments who willfully turn a blind eye in order to profit.”
“Our intent is not to target law-abiding establishments, or even those who are duped by fake licenses or identification presented by a minor trying to illegally purchase alcoholic beverages,” said Rep. Hovey. “This measure is intended to provide a substantial penalty against those who make an insufficient effort to ensure the law is adhered to and alcohol is not sold to minors.”
The 2012 session of the Connecticut General Assembly begins on February 8th, and concludes on May 2nd.