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Tennessee Gets Tough on Sales of Liquor to Minors
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Tennessee Gets Tough on Sales of Liquor to Minors

10.04.13
Restaurants, bars and other liquor license holders in Tennessee are beginning to experience the double whammy of new legislation and ABC policy punishing sales to minors. The impact of the changes is dramatic. Based on our early experience, licensees may face suspensions instead of fines.

Memphis Rocker Elvis Presley has been there, done that:

The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin' and the joint began to swing
You should've heard them knocked-out jailbirds sing


ABC Suspending Licenses for Sales to Minors:

Regular readers know that the Tennessee ABC has been making lots of changes. Recently, the ABC has been seeking suspensions of liquor licenses for second sales to minors within a one year period.

In the past, the ABC issued fines for sales to minors, as long as the establishment was making genuine efforts to prevent sales to minors.

Recently, we have seen citations setting a second sale within one year for hearing for suspension or revocation of the liquor license. This is attention grabbing.

We will keep readers informed as we learn more about ABC penalties for sales to minors. The new policy could easily be applied to multiple sales over more than a year.

New Law Mandates Coordinated Efforts by ABC and Beer Boards:

A new Tennessee law requires that the ABC and beer boards give written notice of suspensions of liquor licenses and beer permits to each other, via certified mail.

In the past, enforcement efforts of the ABC and local beer board were sometimes coordinated and lead to separate fines or suspensions being issued by both the ABC and the local beer board.

Based on our experience, coordinated enforcement was sporadic. Beer boards and the ABC did not regularly communicate about violations. For restaurant and bar owners, this was a good thing.

It is legal for the ABC and local beer board to each impose a separate fine or suspension for the same violation. Yes, the ABC and local beer board can both suspend a restaurant or bar liquor and beer permits for one sale to minor. To make matters worse, the suspensions usually are imposed at different times.

What about double jeopardy? Not applicable.

We strongly encourage Tennessee license holders to step up efforts to prevent sales to minors and intoxicated patrons. The stakes are much higher.

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