Unacceptable [Editorial]

thendricks@theaegis.com

After a transformation of the Harford County Liquor Control Board over the past few years that included a complete turnover of the members, a change in the top administrator and new inspectors, it’s good to see the liquor laws are still being well enforced.

There were suspicions in the community that the liquor board was becoming “more business friendly,” which sounds like code for “don’t worry about it, we’re gonna make life easier for you liquor license holders.”

The liquor board dispelled any notion that it might start looking the other way, or at going easier on those who don’t abide by the law. Four businesses – two in Aberdeen and two in Bel Air – were fined a total of $2,000 for violations that occurred during compliance tests in December and again in March.

In the Dec. 29 operation, 13 businesses were tested with six – Rainbow King, Cheers, the Black Forest Taphouse in Fallston, the Old School Tavern in Street, Tutto Fresco in Forest Hill and India Garden in Bel Air – failing.

In the March 16 operation, another 16 businesses were tested and seven – Grumpy’s, The Greene Turtle, J.D.’s Smokehouse in Bel Air, Backfin Blues: Creole De Graw in Havre de Grace, North Side Liquors in Aberdeen, Anchor Liquors and Riverside Pizzeria, both in Belcamp – failed.

The good news is that 16 of the 29 businesses tested passed the compliance tests and didn’t sell alcoholic beverages to underage police cadets trying to buy them.

The bad news is that 13 businesses failed after, for various reasons, selling alcoholic beverages to underage cadets.

John C. Sullivan Jr., chairman of the Harford County Liquor Control Board, said it’s “unacceptable” that none of the four businesses fined last week for failing the compliance test even bothered to ask for identification.

“You all need to do a better job with your servers,” he told the licensees who came before the liquor board last Wednesday.

We agree.

As we’ve said many, many times in this space, those given license to sell legal intoxicants need to take that responsibility seriously. Asking for ID from a person who is too young to buy alcoholic beverages, no matter how old they look, is the first place to start.

Fining licensees who don’t fulfill their legal obligations to sell alcoholic beverages to those old enough to buy them; suspending the licenses of repeat offenders; and, ultimately, taking the license of those who never get the message that selling alcohol to minors will not be tolerated, seems like a proper progression of enforcement.

Let the licensees know selling to minors will not be tolerated.

We commend those businesses who passed the compliance tests and all the businesses who understand their responsibility to operate legally.

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