To be or not to be in a bar or club. That is the question.
The Sayers Club is at 1645 Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, does, in fact, have a Type 48, On-Sale General Public Premises license. It was issued February 3, 2011 according to the ABC’s online records. And it was issued with conditions. (More on that later.)
A Type 48 license does not permit any person under 21 (“minor”) to enter and remain in the premises at any time—without lawful business. To do so would violate Section 25665 of the CA Business & Professions Code. To help prevent this, a Type 48 licensee is required by Rule 107 to post signs, “No Person Under 21 Allowed.” One sign at or near each public entrance and one on the inside.
The signage rule is very specific. The sign must be at least 7 x 11 inches with lettering at least 1” in height. The same law holds true for a Type 42, On-Sale Beer & Wine Public Premises, and a Type 61, On-Sale Beer Public Premises license. No minors are allowed, except for lawful business, and signs must be posted per Rule 107.
What is “lawful business?”
Lawful business would be things like an underage delivery person, a repair person, or a musician (there are rules for underage musicians, too). Also, there is no exception for things like underage spouses or a baby being held in its parent’s arms.
What can happen as a result of a violation? If ABC gathers the evidence and proves the violation, first, an ABC penalty. If a Type 48 business permits a minor inside, the liquor license is subject to suspension or revocation.
What does it mean to “permit” a minor to be inside the premises? Well, licensees have an “affirmative duty” to ensure no minors enter or remain inside. Passive conduct is the same as “permitting” a minor to be present. This means staff must be aware at all times and monitor what is going on. If someone looks under 30, check ID carefully. If the person is underage or has a fake ID, send them packing immediately.
ABC decides each penalty on a case-by-case basis. However, ABC uses penalty guidelines. There is a “standard” penalty” for each different type of violation, whether it be underage drinking, gambling, narcotics, or what have you. In this case, if the violation is proven, the owner could face the standard 10-day suspension of the liquor license. If the required signage was not posted, then ABC could tack on another five days.
Depending upon the case, the ABC might increase or decrease the number of days of the suspension. For example, if a business has had “priors,” the ABC may up the number of days. In this case, Sayers Club has no priors. If, on the other hand, a business can prove it has trained its staff in safe and legal serving practices, ABC might reduce the number of days. And in some cases, the ABC may permit a business owner to pay a fine instead of serving a suspension. Fines range from $750 to $20,000, depending upon the owner’s past record and his gross sales of alcohol. A higher-volume business will pay a greater fine.
We don’t know what the license conditions are for The Sayers Club–although a copy may be obtained upon request from the ABC. However, any violation of conditions is a separate matter. If proven, this carries a separate ABC penalty.
The second thing is a criminal penalty. If the ABC can prove the minor was inside and management or employees did not do anything to determine his age or remove him, then the owner or employee can be cited into criminal court. This carries a maximum $1,000 fine and/or six months in county jail.
As far as an underage patron goes, he, too, may be held criminally liable. This means a citation which, if found guilty, carries a fine of at least $200.
As always, the time to fix the roof is before it rains. If you have a Type 42, 48 or 61 license, post your “minor warning signs” as required, train your staff well, have a written safe alcohol policy and be vigilant about keeping minors out.