Four of Middletown's 18 liquor stores sold alcohol to minors, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.
Agents from the Department’s Liquor Control Division and officers from the Middletown Police Department conducted a series of compliance checks at all package stores and grocery stores licensed to sell beer in the city.
Volunteer minors who had been trained by the Governor's Prevention Partnership assisted with the compliance checks. Of the 18 stores tested for compliance, it is alleged that four failed by selling alcoholic liquor to a minor.
A liquor permittee or employee who sells to a minor is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, one year in prison, or both, according to Connecticut state liquor law.
The Liquor Control Commission may also suspend a permit for a day or more, according to DCP spokesperson Claudette Carveth. "Often its decision on the severity of the penalty is related to whether this is the first offense by the permittee or whether there have been earlier offenses, and what those offenses have been and what the earlier penalties were," she explained.
The four stores that allegedly failed are:
- Aresco’s Market on Liberty Street
- Forest City Wine & Spirits on Main Street
- King of Spirits on Newfield Street
- The Wine Cellar on South Main Street
“Compliance checks help us to identify businesses that are selling to minors, and we routinely conduct random checks in towns across the state,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “Our objective is to find businesses that knowingly or unknowingly sell alcohol to minors and bring them into compliance with state law.”
However, he added, compliance checks are not intended to hurt local businesses.
“We don’t try to trick or entice establishments to sell alcoholic beverages to youth,” Rubenstein said. “If asked for proof of age before making a liquor purchase, the volunteer youth will hand over his or her actual photo I.D.”
The commissioner thanked the Middletown Police Department for its assistance in this compliance check and to the Governor’s Prevention Partnership for its ongoing support of efforts to reduce youth access to liquor.
The businesses that allegedly sold to a minor will be brought before the Liquor Control Commission for an administrative hearing, at which time they will have an opportunity to address the charges.