Editorial: What’s to stop them from selling alcohol to minors?
July 1, 2009
Those concerned about underage drinking in Grand County should find the results of the June 8 compliance checks encouraging: Only two of 70 establishments licensed to sell liquor attempted to do so to underage buyers.
Those results certainly are worth celebrating.
In the absence of consequences for businesses that fail these checks, however, one can only hope liquor outlets remain diligent about keeping booze out of the hands of underage buyers. At this juncture, they have little reason other than civic-mindedness for doing so.
So far, only the clerks conducting the actual transactions during the compliance checks have paid the consequences – literally, in legal fines. The businesses themselves have escaped repercussions other than whatever disgrace might accompany publicity about their failures. That is even the case for one Kremmling business that has failed the most recent three checks.
We bring this up not by way of singling anyone out, but rather for illustrative purposes. As a letter elsewhere on this page makes clear – and we have no reason to believe otherwise – the business did not violate the law with intent, and the owner offers a public apology.
Nevertheless, Kremmling officials last year made a point of adopting regulations providing for non-compliance penalties in the wake of five town businesses failing the compliance checks in April 2008.
Town officials now suggest the mere possibility of the regulations being enforced, in concert with a focused effort to educate liquor sellers, has had the intended effect. Look no further than the results of last month’s checks for proof, they say.
Be that as it may – and one compliance check scarcely constitutes a trend – we can’t help but wonder: If failing three consecutive checks doesn’t constitute grounds for bringing the regulation to bear, what does?
That is a particularly germane question given the reluctance of Kremmling officials to enforce the regulation just weeks after they spent an hour and a-half agonizing over whether to grant a liquor license to the Shake N Burger. The ostensible grounds for their protracted hand-wringing was that the business is a hang-out for young people and thus could become a venue for corruption of youth through demon rum.
Even a token fine or hearing for the owner of the business that failed the three consecutive checks would have served to reinforce the notion that officials will not tolerate selling booze to the community’s youth – period. We’re certain we’re not the only ones who noticed the conflicting message sent by these contrary actions – or inaction, as the case may be.
Teenagers, for instance, tend to be particularly attuned to such inconsistencies. They may well be left wondering just how serious the town fathers – and by extension, other adults in the community – are about this issue.
To the extent this serves to undermine the salutary effects of the compliance checks, it is truly unfortunate.