There’s a relentless monotony to Liquor Control Adjudication Board hearings. Month after month, the seven, eight or nine board members that decided they could make the hearing fine bars, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores for the same stupid thing: getting caught in an LC minor decoy sting.
They give all manner of excuses: the machine we just bought to read drivers licenses wasn’t working; the clerk did bad math when computing the minor’s birthday; it was near closing time and the bartender just forgot to check the ID.
In response, the LC always gives the same lecture: the law says that every liquor licensee must card everyone who wants to buy booze so you must card everyone who wants to buy booze. Every Hawai’i drivers license issued to someone younger than 21 has a red bold bar across the top saying so. And so on.
It’s all so useless. No one wants establishments to sell alcohol to minors, but it’s so easy—EASY!—for these same establishments to avoid getting nabbed in sting operations. It doesn’t require looking for red bold stripes on driver’s licenses—which don’t appear on other states’ ID cards in any case—or typing a birth date into an expensive computer. All it requires is that the server, bartender, clerk or cashier ask one simple, discreet question of everyone who asks for a drink.
“Are you 21?”
See, the way stings work is that the minor volunteering on behalf of the LC to attempt to buy booze can’t lie or break the law while taking part in the operation. He or she must carry a valid state ID and must—MUST!—honestly answer all questions put to them. Lying would invite ruinous litigation upon the county.
Put simply, if the LC’s minor decoy walks into a bar and asks for a Cape Cod, and the bartender turns around and asks “Are you 21?” the minor has no option except to say one simple word.
Any establishment that employs someone who makes a sale after hearing that deserves everything the LC throws at them.