ELLSWORTH — Three Mount Desert Island businesses were among nine that were issued administrative summonses for selling liquor to a minor during a Nov. 21 compliance check by the Hancock County Alcohol Enforcement Team.
The team conducted checks at 44 Hancock County establishments, sending underage buyers into stores and bars to see if they could purchase alcoholic beverages. Overall, five stores and four bars were summonsed for allowing purchases to be made, according to Lt. Chris Thornton of the task force.
In Southwest Harbor, summonses were issued to Joey’s Place Sports Lounge and the Southwest Harbor Food Mart. In Bar Harbor, the Mad Hatter was issued a summons.
Thornton said the administrative summonses are of a civil nature and not criminal. The summonses are sent to the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, where a decision on any penalties will be determined. A repeat offender could have their license to sell liquor revoked, but typically, fines of $550 per business and $190 for the clerk who made the sale are levied, Thornton said.
The other retailers summonsed are Moose Crossing in Trenton, Franklin Trading Post in Franklin, The Galley in Deer Isle and Hilltop on the Run in Ellsworth.
Danny Murphy’s in Castine and Tag’s Sports Bar in Ellsworth were the other two bars summonsed.
Thornton insists there is “no deceit” involved in conducting the checks. The underage buyer has no fake identification and, if asked, must give their actual date of birth. In more than one case, the given birth date, by which the buyer was under 21, didn’t stop the sale from proceeding, Thornton said.
Selling alcohol to someone who is underage could result in serious consequences for a business. If the buyer consumes the alcohol and is involved in an accident of some kind, under the Maine Liquor Liability Act, the business is responsible for $350,000 in damages and paying medical expenses for the lifetime of the injured party, Thornton said.
Thornton said the timing of the enforcement action was planned for the holiday season, a time when many young people are coming back home from college.
The task force will contact the 35 businesses that were in compliance with state liquor laws to let them know their efforts to stop underage drinking are appreciated.
Six law enforcement officers and three underage buyers participated in the compliance checks.