Summer is once again upon us. As we did last year, we would like to remind licensees of the many violations they may face (and ways to avoid them).
It is always important for licensees to strive for a violation-free business; however, as we enter the summer months, licensees must become even more cautious. MLCC’s Enforcement Division is hard at work, enforcing the law and rules. Furthermore, increased local police efforts occur frequently in the summer, especially with regard intoxicated drivers (which can lead to violations for the licensee if their staff served the driver). With that in mind, we have made note of a few common “summer” violations, and things that can be done to prevent them:
- Sales to Minors: This is a problem year round; however, it can become more of a problem during the summer months, especially in resort areas. Minors, on vacation, may become more brazen about purchasing alcohol under age. We recommend proper server training, ID scanning equipment, and the use of private controlled buys. This topic is also discussed on our website, here.
- Sales to Intoxicated Persons: There are multiple violations involving intoxicated persons on the premises, including sales to intoxicated persons and allowing intoxicated persons to loiter on the premises. As with sales to minors, these problems may escalate in the summer vacation months. Proper serving training will certainly help alleviate this issue, but it is important that licensees continuously remind staff of how to identify and manage intoxicated patrons. It certainly cannot hurt to post the 50 signs of intoxication in a staff room, as a reminder. Additional measures to avoid intoxicated patrons can be made through inventory changes – for example, eliminating tall boys (22oz cans) and higher proof spirits from your offerings will give bartenders greater control over patron consumption and decrease the rate at which patrons become intoxicated. This topic is also discussed on our website, here.
- Outdoor service without a permit: Everyone loves a drink on the patio; however, if a licensee serves alcohol on a patio without an “outdoor service permit,” they have committed a violation. This violation is easily avoided – simply obtain the required permit.
- Use of an additional bar without an add bar permit: This is related to the violation above; if a licensee wants to serve alcohol from an additional bar (for example, a bar on the patio), they must have an add bar permit. Operating two bars without such a permit is a violation. As with outdoor service, this violation is easily avoided – simply pay the $350 annual fee and obtain the required permit.
- Contests using Alcohol as a Prize: Seen frequently when college students return home (and in our tourist areas), this violation occurs when a licensee permits or sponsors a contest that requires the use/consumption of alcohol (e.g. beer pong) or features alcohol as a prize in connection with a contest.
- Removal of alcohol from the premises: If a licensee has an SDM license, they can sell beer “to go.” Those beers cannot, however, be consumed on adjacent property that is owned by the licensee. Therefore, if the beer is sold “to go” – the patrons should not be drinking it on the licensees back stoop. Similarly, if a drink is sold for on-premise consumption, the licensee cannot allow patrons to remove that drink from the licensed premises. This means that if patrons want to step outside of the licensed area for a cigarette, they cannot take their drink with them.
- Consumption of alcohol purchased from another licensee: Certainly, no licensee wants their patrons drinking alcohol purchased elsewhere. Not only is this bad for business – it is also a violation. During summer months, the practice of walking into a bar/patio with alcohol purchased elsehwere becomes increasingly problematic, especially in tourist towns with many patios. Taking measures to stop “patio hopping” can help eliminate both of the violations discussed above.
- Other Violations: In addition to those violations listed above, licensees should consistently be on the lookout for other potential violations. One good measure is keeping a copy of MLCC’s “Common Violations” handy as a reminder. You can also find common violations and their descriptions here.
*This information and thoughts herein are provided by the Liquor Lawyers at Stariha & Brower, PLC. As always, we remind readers that the materials on this site are provided purely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete, and current. This blog is not intended to be a source of legal advice. Therefore, the reader should not consider this information an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. Readers should always seek the advice of competent counsel.