Liquor board needs to get tougher on those caught in sting

August 04, 2011

Yet again, it appears liquor inspectors in Harford County have proven their services are in substantial demand.

On July 23, inspectors and police, including an undercover underage purchaser, visited 22 places in the county licensed to sell the only legal recreational intoxicant.

To their credit, 17 of the operations with liquor licenses refused to sell to the underage person. Unfortunately, it appears five places weren't so responsible when it comes to handling the great responsibility of keeping intoxicants out of the hands and bodies of people deemed under the law not ready for beer, wine or liquor.

Perhaps most disturbing about the latest sting is that an American Legion post is one of the liquor license holders where the underage person was served. Legion posts, after all, are civic organizations and we expect better from them.

Even so, it's more that a little disheartening that so few times over the years has there been an instance when liquor inspectors and police running undercover operations in Harford County have ended up citing no liquor license holders.

In recent years, the Harford County Liquor Control Board has become a good deal more vigilant about levying serious penalties against those who violate liquor laws, including the laws regarding sale to people too young under the law to buy alcohol.

This is a good thing, just as it is a good thing that liquor stings are a regular feature of local law enforcement. After all, while teens and young adults younger than 21 are not legally allowed to have alcohol, they are notoriously persistent when it comes to trying to get their hands on it.

Since this trait of teen behavior isn't going to change, perhaps it's time for the liquor board to change its tactics in dealing with places caught serving alcohol to underage people. A more liberal attitude when it comes to suspending licenses would be a good place to start.

Certainly, this would hurt businesses that see their licenses suspended. On the other hand, having a liquor license is a privilege that comes with great responsibility — and great rewards for folks with reasonable business sense.

Public safety, not liquor licensee profitability, should be the number one concern, and if one licensee can't handle the responsibility, there are probably plenty of other folks out there who would be happy to have a chance to do better..

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