As part of its regulatory duties, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“TABC”) enforces the laws regarding the prohibition of the sale of alcohol to minors. Agents regularly send in an under-aged confidential informant to determine whether a licensee will sell alcohol to that minor. If the server or clerk sells to the minor, then not only does the licensed establishment receive a $1500 regulatory fine, but the server or clerk is criminally cited for the sale of alcohol to a minor. Although the TABC may allow for a small reduction in the regulatory fine, the more important aspect is the criminal citation issued to the clerk or server. It may appear that the individual may easily escape harsh penalties by pleading guilty and paying a $50 fine, but DON’T PLEAD GUILTY!!!! If the individual pleads guilty, then a criminal conviction involving the sale of alcohol is now on their record and any application for a liquor permit or license will be denied for a period of eight years from the date of the conviction. In other words, the individual would be prohibited from working at any location serving or selling alcohol for up to eight years. In Davidson County, the court allows the individual to attend a TIPS class and have their charge dismissed.
Representatives at the TABC have recently advised that the agency will soon begin taking regulatory action against an individual’s server or employee permit if they are involved in a sale of alcohol to a minor. Such disciplinary action could include a suspension or revocation of the individual’s permit or a monetary fine. This disciplinary action could be in addition to any criminal action that the agency pursues.
Further, once an establishment sells alcohol to an under-aged confidential informant, the establishment can expect another compliance check or minor sting in the very near future. If the establishment sells again, the punishment is a 10 day suspension of the license. A third offense is the revocation of the license.
If you have been subject to a minor sting either as an individual or as an establishment, please contact Elks Law for assistance.