‘Minors as agents’ booze sting program expands 0
After using minors to bust incompliant liquor stores selling booze to youth, a Ministry of Justice pilot now aims to expand the scope of the undercover stings to single-event parties, booze delivery services and restaurants.
Within the past three years illegal alcohol sales to minors at both public and private liquor stores have plummeted when provincial laws were changed to allow liquor inspectors to be accompanied by young “agents” in attempts to buy booze.
The Justice Ministry is now expanding the agents’ targets, according to freedom of information documents released Aug. 30.
In restaurants, minors would be directed to buy alcohol and food, leave cash for the bill or just leave, signaling a liquor inspector to come in and seize the alcohol.
For parties licensed under a B.C. Special Occasion Licence, such as community festivals or outdoor concerts, minors would only need to enter a premise before they’re pulled back. In un-crowded and well-lit places the agents would be directed to buy booze at these events.
The B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is also targeting delivery services by directing orders to be sent to hotel and motel rooms. If cash is exchanged, a police officer or liquor inspector would make a bust.
Ron Orr, president of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees B.C., the body that represents private liquor stores, said the stings have caused vendors to be more diligent when checking for identification.
However, he expressed concern about the inequality of fines handed to government versus private liquor stores. Those who sell to minors are levied a $7,500 fine, a large cost to private stores, Orr noted, but covered by taxpayers should a government store be fined.
“It’s kind of mute when it’s money coming out of the government’s pocket and back into the government.”