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Police cite five Howard Co. liquor stores for selling to underage customers

By Luke Lavoie, llavoie@tribune.com

3:20 PM EST, November 22, 2013

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Howard County police have cited five businesses for selling alcohol to underage customers, according to a news release.

St. John's Liquors, in Ellicott City; Glenwood Wine and Spirits, in Glenwood; Village Liquors, in Clarksville; and Vinoland Liquors, also known as The Twisted Cork, and Lark Brown Liquors, both of Elkridge, were cited.

“We take the issue of underage drinking seriously in Howard County,” Police Chief Bill McMahon said. “Our officers have seen first-hand the dangers of kids and alcohol, from drunk driving, to risky behaviors, to using poor judgment. In our investigations, we often learn that car crashes, increased drug use and some sexual assaults involved underage drinking before the incident occurred.”

All five will be brought before the Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board for violation hearings. Police said the stores can face fines of up to $2,000 and a temporary suspension of their liquor license. Repeated violations could result in revoked licenses, according to police.

During the operation, a 19-year-old male police cadet entered the liquor stores and purchased alcohol. In each case, the cashier conducted the transaction without asking for identification or proof of age, police said.

Other businesses fared well in the test, police said, as employees followed appropriate laws.

Woodbine Wine and Spirits, in Woodbine; Vintage Cellars, in Clarksville; Montpelier Liquors, in Laurel;  Absolutely Wine and Spirits, in Columbia; and Troy Farms Liquors, in Elkridge; were sent letters of appreciation by McMahon. 

Police said periodic tests are part of an ongoing effort to combat underage drinking in Howard County. Police said they plan to continue to conduct these and other operations during the holidays.