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Bartenders: Wristband does not let you off the hook in underage drinking

It has been roughly a month since North Carolina's alcohol regulation took effect, which does not allow bartenders to claim innocence when they serve alcohol to underage patrons, even though the underage patron may have a wristband or ink stamp indicating that they are of legal drinking age.

The new regulation, as Paul Woolverton reports for the Fay Observer, seeks to "reduce the chance" that a bar will serve underage patrons and inadvertently facilitate underage drinking.

The regulation applies to those bars and restaurants that use wristbands and ink stamps to readily identify who is of legal drinking age and who is not.

The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission's Agnes Stevens says that underage patrons have been served alcohol in the past, left the bar, and caused fatal car wrecks.

But the key with this regulation is whether law enforcement authorities will make good use of the regulation against bars known to serve underage patrons and those bars or restaurants that make "good faith" efforts to obey the law.

One North Carolina lawyer wonders whether law enforcement authorities will send an undercover (and underage) patron into a bar with a wristband and entrap a good-faith bartender into serving the undercover patron.

The bartender, at that point, would face criminal prosecution and the bar could lose its liquor license.

Source: Fay Observer, "New state regulation intended to curb underage drinking is being questioned," by Paul Woolverton, 11/20/11

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