In what one liquor board member called "a pretty significant improvement," 27 out of 30 businesses checked during a recent underage compliance test did not sell alcohol to an underage student.
The test, done by the Harford County Liquor Control Board inspector, a Harford County Sheriff's deputy and an 18-year-old criminal justice student at Harford Community College on June 13, included restaurants and liquor stores across Harford.
Of the three businesses that served the underage student, two did it after checking his license.
"They're improving, which is a good sign that the message is getting out," board member Michael Thomson said of the compliance test results. "[The message is] that we're watching, that licensees are being diligent about carding. It's a pretty significant improvement."
In the last compliance test, on March 22, 31 of 34 businesses checked did not serve the underage student. On Jan. 23, 13 of 23 businesses checked failed and served the student, shocking board members.
"It boggles the mind," board member Tom Fidler said at the time.
The businesses that served the underage student were Belissimo in Bel Air, Fisherman's Catch in Forest Hill and Santini's Italian Cuisine in Joppa.
The businesses that passed the compliance test by not selling alcohol to the HCC student on June 13 include:
American Legion Post 47, Chiapparelli's restaurant, Cork & Barrel, Price's Crab House, Tidewater Grille and One Stop Liquors, all in Havre de Grace; Baldwin's Seafood, Flying Point Marina and Maria D's Bistro, all in Joppa; Courtyard by Marriott and Towne Grill & Pub, both in Aberdeen; Gene's Bar and Restaurant, Enotria and Toki Sushi, all in Forest Hill; Kent Island Seafood, Josef's Country Inn and Texas Roadhouse, all in Fallston; Liberatore's restaurant, Magerk's Pub, Main Street Oyster House, Outback Steakhouse, Sean Bolan's Irish Pub, all in Bel Air; Perryman VFW Post 6054 and Perryman Grocery in Perryman; Bushmill Tavern in Abingdon; and Edgewood Station in Edgewood.
In at least seven businesses, Robbins said, the people checking the student's ID, which is vertical, that they realize he was old enough to have a drink, but because he has a vertical license, the business could not serve him.
"They didn't bother looking at the age," liquor board inspector Charlie Robbins said. "Based on looking at the vertical license, they denied it."
That's what the liquor board has recommended bars, restaurants and liquor stores do so there's no question.
A recent change in Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration procedures, however, that requires anyone younger than 40 to renew their license by mail or online, a person could be 21 and still have a vertical license.
Because of this change, some of Harford's businesses have backed off on their policy of denying service to someone with a vertical license. At some of them, if someone presents a vertical ID, the person checking it will get approval from the manager or licensee.
The vertical licenses are good for 60 days after the ID holder turns 21.