Always ask for the customer’s ID. Always check the ID. Always make sure the customer is over 21.
For the Maui County Department of Liquor Control, these are the Three Commandments for all licensees—the basic rules governing every store, bar and restaurant on Maui that wants to sell booze.
But what happens when the licensee—a store clerk, for instance—for reasons that aren’t very clear, kind of spaces when a customer reaches the cashier? What happens when that clerk goes ahead and sells the customer—a minor who happens to be working undercover for the LC, for instance—a six-pack of Smirnoff Twisted V Green Apple malt liquor without asking for an ID, but then as the customer is leaving the store suddenly remembers and yells out that he needs to see some identification?
If you’re the Adjudication Board, what happens is that the licensee gets slapped with a $2,000 fine like everyone else—$1,000 suspended though, assuming the licensee can go a year without selling any more booze to minors.
All this happened to Port Town Chevron in Kahului last July, and the Adjudication Board took it up at their June 1, 2006 hearing. Owner Ryuichiro Ishida, who spoke such poor English he needed a translator at one point, kept trying to tell the board that he took the matter very seriously, but had this been “a real case,” his clerk wouldn’t have sold the booze to the minor decoy.
The board ridiculed that idea, pointing out that the clerk had exchanged money with the minor decoy, which made it a real case, but Ishida had a point: what would have happened had that minor not been an LC decoy?
Ishida’s view was that his clerk would have gone after the customer, properly carded him, determined that he was just a kid, and voided the sale.
Would this have actually happened? Who knows, because Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Temas said that as soon as Ishida’s clerk yelled after the minor that he needed to see some ID, LC Investigator Chad Gardiner moved in and told the clerk he’d just been nailed in a sting.
Tellingly, the LC didn’t bring Ishida up on charges of failing to check identification.