Cracking down on beer sales to underage customers

Lawton_The City Council discussed changing the penalties for selling alcohol to minors during Tuesday night's meeting.  Current city law revokes beer licenses of businesses caught selling to minors three times in a two-year span, but some council members want that cut to two.

Councilman Randy Warren proposed the change.   He told 7NEWS he got the idea after seeing report we did in april about the growing number of busts in the area.   Warren said businesses should be allowed one mistake, but three busts for a suspended beer license is too many. "What we're doing is we're saying that it's okay to sell it twice but it's not okay to sell it that third time, " Warren said during the debate on his proposal.  "Why don't we say that it's not okay to sell it that second time?"

Councilman Jeff Patton disagreed, saying penalizing the store owners for an employee's mistake is unfair.   "Don't give them the death penalty, " Patton said.  "You're basically giving them the death penalty on their first offense. "  Patton suggested focusing on fines as a way to punish the violators.

But, Warren said it's the owner's responsibility to manage their employees, as well as the sale of the alcohol product.  "They need to hire employees and train those employees and make sure that they are following the law, for the sake of children, and for the sake of everybody out there."

The council didn't vote on Warren's proposal Tuesday night. They tabled it until the next meeting, when they'll take a closer look at the state liquor laws, which call for a suspension of a store's beer license with a single bust.