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Edition Date: December 18, 2006
Local businesses fail alcohol compliance check
by Jeanette Knutson
Staff Writer

On Nov. 30, Washington Liquor Control Board enforcement officers checked eight Woodinville businesses that sell alcohol to make sure they were not selling to minors. Five of the eight businesses checked sold alcohol to minors. Two of the five were repeat offenders. In Washington, it is unlawful to furnish alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

“Five out of eight is not a good average at all,” said Kate Miyasato, lieutenant in the enforcement division of the Liquor Control Board.

The Woodinville businesses that sold alcohol to minors were the following:

  • ARCO AM/PM, 13023 N.E. 175th, second violation in two years;
  • Sami’s Shell, 13106 N.E. 175th;
  • La Princesa (Mexican grocery), 12601 N.E. Woodinville Drive;
  • AM/PM Mini Mart, 15520 N.E. Woodinville-Duvall Road; and
  • Sami’s Shell, 15606 N.E. Woodinville-Duvall Road, second violation in two years.

According to Miyasato, a citation is filled out and given to the King County Prosecuting Attorney. It is the prosecuting attorney who decides to file charges against the clerk who sold the alcohol. The Liquor Control Board officer issues an Administrative Violation Notice to the owner of the business. The punishment for a first-time violation is a five-day suspension of the liquor license or a $500 fine. The owner has three options: (1) accept the penalty, (2) ask to have a settlement conference (If mitigating circumstances are identified, the number of days the license is suspended or the dollar amount of the fine could be decreased.), or (3) request a formal administrative hearing before an administrative judge.

The penalty for a second sale to minors in a two-year period is a seven-day suspension of the liquor license effective Jan. 3, 2007, at 10 a.m. The owner may request a settlement conference and might negotiate paying a substantial monetary penalty, said Miyasato. The owner may also request an administrative hearing.

The fourth violation in a two-year period results in loss of liquor license.

“We don’t have too many businesses in that situation,” said Miyasato. “If businesses don’t want violations, they should make sure their employees are well trained. It is not enough to ask for an ID. It must be read carefully. Clerks cannot just go through the motions. The Liquor Control Board offers three training classes at no charge. Businesses should take advantage of them.”

She said there are about 12,500 liquor licenses issued in the state of Washington. According to the control board’s Web site, last year, liquor enforcement officers conducted more than 6,500 compliance checks statewide. Overall, the state compliance rate was 84 percent. The board is committed to conducting increasing numbers of compliance checks and is aiming for a 90 percent compliance rate.

The checks are done with the assistance of minors. These individuals are from 18 to 20 years old. They must present their true identification if asked by a clerk. However, they may attempt to be evasive if asked their age but not asked for their I.D.