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On April 17, 2014, the New York State Liquor Authority began using a new part-time unit to investigate alcohol sales to minors in New York City.

The SLA received a $147,000 grant from the New York City Department of  Health and Mental Hygiene through the Centers for Disease Control to form a unit exclusively to investigate underage sales by licensees in New York city.  The unit consists of four part-time Beverage Control investigators, four part-time underage decoys, and a part-time prosecutor.

From April 17 through May 1, 2014, the unit conducted seven operations with decoys visiting 74 grocery and liquor stores throughout the five boroughs.  The undercover minors were able to purchase alcohol at 32 of the premises visited.  SLA investigators entered the stores separately from the undercover minors and observed the illegal sales.

The SLA plans to continue these operations through September 2014.  They will conduct targeted compliance checks by the new unit at over 1,000 licensed premises.  The unit is using the SLA’s Liquor Authority Mapping Project GIS program to identify areas with the largest density of licensed businesses as well as problem areas and repeat offenders.

Licensees charged by the SLA with underage sales face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, with fines starting from $2,500 to $3,000 for first offenders.  Repeat offenders also face suspension or revocation of their licenses.

The sale of alcohol to a minor can result in steep fines and jeopardize your liquor license.  Be alert and insist that your employees check proof-of-age for every alcohol sale.  Carelessness can cost you your business.

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