Liquor license suspension an appropriate punishment for teen party involving alcohol [Editorial]

Teen drinking long been a problem and it will continue to be a problem long after this generation of young adults is of legal age to consume alcohol.

The temptation is strong. The desire of young people to partake of adult indulgences is firmly ingrained. On top of that, the teens are smart – often smarter than they get credit for – and they've got plenty of free time for planning ways to circumvent the barriers between them and a contraband six pack of beer or bottle of spirits.


In a way, teens on the prowl for alcohol are like squirrels at a bird feeder. They've got lots of time to figure out how to get what they're after.

The persistence of teens when it comes to acquiring alcohol sometimes has been seen as a reason for being lenient when it comes to dealing with adults who are bamboozled by conniving young people pursuing booze.


In recent years, however, the Harford County Liquor Control Board has dealt relatively severely with adults who end up being taken in, and that's a good thing. Most recently, the liquor board moved to suspend for 90 days the license of Santini's restaurant in Joppa because the licensee's teenage son had a party in January. Invited teens smuggled alcohol into the Bel Air party, which was boisterous enough that police ended up being dispatched to shut things down.

The reality of situations like this is that it is incumbent on the adults to be the first enforcers of the law. Had this happened, the party probably would never have gotten out of hand. Police wouldn't have been needed, and, in all likelihood, the smuggling teens would have known better than to do what they did.

In this case, the adult in question happened to be Jose Hernandez, who holds the liquor license for Santini's, and the liquor board punishment levied against him is probably more stinging than what would be felt by a parent in another line of work.

Still, someone entrusted with a license allowing for the sale of alcohol needs to be held to a higher standard than the general public, just as adults need to be held to a high standard when it comes to allowing teens illegal access to alcoholic beverages.

The reason is simple: The consequences of adults failing to keep alcohol out of the hands of teens can too easily turn tragic, and there are no second chances after tragedy strikes.