Impact Article

New County Law Fights Illegal Sale of Alcohol

03.27.2012
Posted by Leon Fooksman of yourPBC.org

Palm Beach County is now requiring new signs to warn against illegal alcohol sales.

Effective June 1, signs forbidding the sale of alcohol to those under 21 years old will be required at restaurants, liquor stores, golf courses, and many other establishments, according to a Sun Sentinel report.

The new signs must include a phone number to report underage buyers and those illegally selling alcohol, and it requires listing the potential punishment: up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The phone number is (877-MEANS 21).

Doing more to stop teenage drinking is important. After all, alcohol is the drug of choice among youth.

In a survey of 1,804 middle and high school students, nearly 54 percent said they have used alcohol on at least one occasion in their lives, the 2010 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey found.

Some business groups, though, object to the need for the new signs. They fear the potential cost of having to comply with the county's new rule.

"Creating one more government mandate will not change the law or improve its enforcement," Lynne Montgomery Hernandez of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association wrote in a letter to the County Commission, according to the newspaper report. "We can become so redundant it becomes ridiculous."

County Commissioner Paulette Burdick cast the only vote against the sign requirement, calling it ineffective.

The new signs must go up in communities outside city limits, but Palm Beach County's 38 municipalities can adopt the county measure as well.

So are the signs worth it?

County Commissioner Burt Aaronson said in the Sun Sentinel article that he supports the new law, "even if it's just to save one life."