Council to review handling of liquor license violations

Published 1:14 pm Saturday, January 30, 2010

City council is expected to review Monday evening how Austin handles liquor license violations.

The city’s current procedure was last revised in 2003 and has been up for discussion at various meetings this fall and winter following public hearings on the matter.

As it stands, the city has a sliding scale of fines and suspensions. The first violation results in a $500 fine to the business; the second is $750 fine and a three-day business suspension; the third is $1,000 and a seven-day suspension; and a fourth violation results in the revocation of the liquor license.

In a work session on Jan. 19, council member Brian McAlister said he thought fines should be progressively increased rather than forcing businesses to close.

Council member Jeff Austin said in a work session on Oct. 19 that perhaps the actual employee who sold the liquor to the undercover agent should be responsible for part of the fine.

Council member John Martin said the way that the police department perform stings is entrapment.

On Monday, the council will review the policies of other Minnesota cities.

Albert Lea, Owatonna, Red Wing and Winona may revoke or suspend liquor licenses up to 60 days. While Rochester is allowed to suspend licenses via their city codes, they do not do this in practice, according to council documents.

All cities mentioned impose fines up to $2,000; Rochester fines the employee responsible for the violation as well.