House unanimously passes Waters bipartisan bill to bring equity to the penalties for selling to a minor

The Washington State House of Representatives unanimously approved bipartisan legislation from Rep. Kevin Waters on Tuesday that would align the penalties for selling alcohol to a minor.

House Bill 2260 would authorize the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) to impose civil penalties on store clerks for sales of alcohol to minors, instead of issuing a criminal citation, aligning with the penalty structure for bartenders or other servers.

“This bill would not only level the field for penalties for selling to a minor, but it also addresses another issue: enforcement,” said Waters, R-Stevenson. “With a shortage of law enforcement officers and rising crime rates, there simply aren’t enough peace officers to address this issue.

“That means, in many cases, the crime of selling to a minor is being ignored. However, allowing for administrative penalties for a store clerk selling to a minor would give the LCB greater flexibility and better enforcement opportunities.”

Under current law, if a restaurant worker or someone that serves alcohol sells to a minor, they are given a fine instead of being charged with a criminal penalty. When a store clerk sells or supplies liquor to a minor, the only penalty available is a criminal one – a gross misdemeanor.

“These penalties should be aligned for all people who sell liquor,” said Waters. “We want to do what we can to bring balance to this issue, but more importantly, we want to make a greater effort to enforce the law by holding offenders accountable.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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