Today in Caribou law enforcement officers gathered for a day long training concerning underage drinking. It’s a problem that is prevalent across the country, so of course it’s an issue that law enforcement officers here in Aroostook County have to contend with as well.
Liquor Compliance and Enforcement Instructor Frank Lyons said, “The state of Maine it’s probably as pervasive as it is anywhere else, and underage drinking by virtue of what it infers; young people, rite of passage.”
That rite of passage is quite problematic; and dealing with it from a legal perspective can be kind of tricky, due to the 3 tiers Maine State Liquor Laws fall under, which are criminal, civil, and administrative.
Sergeant Lewiston Police Dept. & Class Instructor Robert Ullrich said, “With those 3 tiers sometimes there’s some confusion within the law enforcement community only because we’re not always dealing with liquor laws particularly when it comes to the administrative side.”
Liquor Compliance and Enforcement Instructor Frank Lyons said, “These guys are law enforcement officers pretty much everyone in this room has a high level of skill when it comes to enforcing the law, what they don’t have and what makes it difficult the liquor laws are complex in nature in so much as that the administrative laws burden of proof, how they approach those investigations is very much different.”
A person in possession of alcohol under the age of 21 is a civil violation; subjecting that individual to a fine. A criminal violation involves furnishing alcohol; or the distribution of alcohol from an adult to a minor. And the repercussions could entail jail time as well as a fine. And the administrative side involves stores, bars, and establishments that are licensed to sell liquor; that could loose their liquor license if a liquor violation is made.
Liquor Compliance and Enforcement Instructor Frank Lyons said, “At the end of the day there’s a very big difference between how you approach Johnny down there hosting a party it’s illegal from all kinds of different components as opposed to dealing with a licensed establishment, they’re businesses they need to be help to compliance, they need to be held accountable for any violations.”
It’s crucial that law enforcement officers know what the laws are and what the protocols are in order to enforce Maine State liquor laws effectively.
Over 20 law enforcement officers from different agencies across the County attended this underage drinking training today.