Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories



New Hampshire – February 2004



of Problem










With support from the OJJDP

Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative, community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to

change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


Regular Enforcement and Tougher Penalties
Produce Changes in Concord

Several years ago, residents in the City of Concord, New Hampshire expressed

concern that underage drinking was a problem that needed attention. While

the causes of the problem were somewhat unclear, community desire for

action was not

In 2001, the Concord

City Council convened an ad hoc committee to study the problem of underage

drinking. This group consisted of representatives from criminal justice

system, the faith community, schools, businesses, and parents. After a

process that included public hearings, the ad hoc committee produced a

report with two main recommendations: (1) Create a position within city

government to manage programs and activities for youth, and (2) Change

regulatory policies regarding underage drinking.

One of the policy-related

deficiencies noted by the group was the lack of appropriate penalties

imposed on outlets that failed compliance checks. Clerks who sold to minors

usually faced criminal charges, but license holders received only minimal

penalties. One store—“the poster child for bad business,”

says Concord’s Chief of Police Jerome Madden—failed five straight

compliance checks and kept its license.

Armed with the committee’s

report, Concord Mayor Michael Donovan, Judge Michael Sullivan, and Chief

Madden asked the State Liquor Commission for a meeting to discuss the

lack of appropriate penalties for violations of the minimum purchase age

law. The Commission, in turn, asked them to recommend new penalty guidelines.

The city leaders agreed

that a fine and a license suspension should be imposed for a first offense.


they won the Commission’s approval for the following penalties:

  • First offense:

    3-day suspension and $250 fine.

  • Second offense

    within 3 years: 5-day suspension and $500 fine.

  • Third offense:

    10-day suspension and $750 fine.

  • Fourth offense:

    30-day suspension and $1,000 fine.

  • Fifth offense:

    revocation for the balance of the license year, or at least 6 months.

The Commission adopted

the penalties on a trial basis in August 2002, and the Concord Police

Department believes the combination of regular law enforcement activity

and stiffer penalties is directly responsible for the increase in retail

compliance. Concord compliance rates in December 2003 for on-premise establishments

were 100 percent and 96 percent for off-premise establishments. For the

year 2003, compliance rates for on-premise and off-premise establishments

averaged 96 percent and 87 percent, respectively.

Looking back on the

year, Judge Sullivan notes that community support has been “wonderful.”

The stiffer penalties generated greater awareness about one of the primary

causes underage drinking: easy access through retail sources. Even more

importantly, it led to dramatic changes in retailer behavior.

For more information, contact contact Chief Aidan Moore of the

New Hampshire Liquor Commission at 603-271-3930 or [email protected]



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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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