Billerica Pulls No
liquor law violators
The Billerica Board of Selectmen didn’t bat an eye recently when it voted to suspend the liquor licenses of six individual package stores for selling alcohol to minors.
Billerica only has 11 package stores in town -- so more than half would face closure for several days if the board’s punishment was implemented at the same time. It’s quite likely, however, that officials will stagger the suspensions so as not to inconvenience the public.
It’s the only concession officials made to the violators, who were snared in a police undercover sting on August 2.
The board’s decision reflects how seriously Billerica is taking the problem of underage drinking. We commend them for sending a strong message to other businesses that sell and serve liquor in town.
But Billerica officials went a step further.
As recommended by Police Chief Daniel Rosa, selectmen directed police to file charges in Lowell District Court against the clerks who sold the liquor to the underage teens. A misdemeanor charge carries a maximum $2,000 fine or a year in jail.
The six businesses must also pay for six months of compliance monitoring.
While some may feel Billerica’s approach to be too harsh, we believe the vast majority of residents support their local government’s actions. We certainly do. A town can’t safeguard its citizens if it doesn’t stick up for the rule of law.
Billerica officials have sent a loud-and-clear message to all establishments that selling liquor to minors won’t be tolerated.
“This is a best-case scenario,” said Selectman Michael Rosa. “Worst case is someone gets hurt or killed or injured. There’s a lot of responsibility having your name on a liquor license.”
We hope Billerica follows the same approach when the town launches into another new venture -- allowing businesses to sell recreational marijuana.
For now, however, Billerica police and selectmen have put the liquor industry on notice that selling alcohol to minors is unacceptable.
Package stores and bars have a duty to conduct proper ID checks on persons who enter establishments to purchase liquor. Employees must know precisely what is expected of them in the performance of their jobs. And that job falls to business owners who have the ultimate responsibility for upholding liquor laws.
Good job, Billerica, for a job well done.