DeBlog: Can Underage Beer Sales Cost A License?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – So eight beer vendors at Target Field got busted selling beer to underage decoys in a sting by Minneapolis Police. On Twitter, @Natron44 asked: “If a bar sold to 8 underage kids it would have it’s license pulled. Why not a stadium?”

Great question. I called Ricardo Cervantes, the deputy director of licensing for Minneapolis. His answer: “No. On the first offense, no.”

First of all, for a place as big as Target Field, with all the points-of-sale, seven failures count as one incident. So the foodservice vendor/license holder gets hit with one municipal citation for $500. The eight individual vendors will all be referred for gross misdemeanor criminal charges to the city attorney’s office.

That’s the standard procedure, according to Cervantes. One first offense — it’s pretty routine.

“If there’s a second violation, then it falls into my realm, into the licensing realm,” said Cervantes.

On a second offense, “I would make recommendations to them and we would reach an agreement,” he said. Basically, a bar or a concession operator would have to come up with a written plan.

For example, “You will write a policy which will determine how you check IDs, the training you’ll provide employees,” Cervantes explained. And “you will have a trained manager who will be there to support employees,” he added.

On a third failure, “you could lose your license.” But in his 5-plus years with the city, that hasn’t happened.

“We have had cases where there’s been a third violation. There’s been mitigating circumstances, where the licensees were doing everything conceivably right, but because they have to rely on individual employees, there could be a miss,” he said.

In a third offense, the city can issue “a monetary sanction or a suspension of the license,” according to Cervantes, but the focus is on education and making sure it doesn’t happen again.

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