Pubs and restaurants face fines if they serve under-aged customers

New fines target bootleggers, alcohol servers

New B.C. liquor regulations include a $575 fine for adults who buy alcohol for under-aged drinkers, or serve them in restaurants and pubs.

New B.C. liquor regulations include a $575 fine for adults who buy alcohol for under-aged drinkers, or serve them in restaurants and pubs.

The fines apply to serving staff who fail to check identification, in addition to penalties already in place for licensed establishments that serve under-aged drinkers. Those penalties range from fines of $7,500 to $10,000 or a licence suspension of 10 to 15 days.

Parents and guardians who provide booze to their under-19 children are exempt from the tickets.

“These changes give police and liquor inspectors another tool to make it harder for minors to get alcohol,” said Rich Coleman, minister responsible for liquor and gambling policy.

The new tickets are part of an effort by the B.C. government to streamline the court system, after imposing new administrative penalties for impaired driving. For supplying alcohol to minors, police previously handed out court appearance notices. The new tickets can still be disputed in court, but the onus is on the person ticketed to dispute or pay it.

B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president Ian Tostenson said the organization supports the new penalties.

1928 wine law has sour taste

The federal government is finally moving to modernize its alcohol transportation rules, amending a 1928 law that prevents people from buying wine across provincial borders.

The House of Commons has unanimously supported a private members’ bill from Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas that provides for a personal exemption from a law created during the Prohibition era to stop smuggling and tax evasion. The wine industry and B.C. politicians have argued that individuals should be able to buy or order a case of wine they enjoyed while on vacation.

The bill still has to pass the Senate. Once the federal law is changed, provinces would need to establish a personal exemption to allow personal purchase and shipment of alcoholic beverages across provincial borders.

The B.C. government announced Thursday its own provincial tax exemptions for alcoholic beverages brought into the province for personal use. B.C. residents can now bring back up to one standard case of wine (nine litres), four bottles of spirits (three litres) and a combined total of six dozen beer, cider and coolers (25.6 litres) from each trip to another province, without paying B.C. tax on it.

Those limits are similar to those permitted by Ontario, Nova Scotia and Yukon and are among the highest in Canada, said Rich Coleman, minister responsible for B.C. liquor and gambling policy. He added that the federal change will particularly help B.C. and Ontario, which have well-developed wine industries.

Canada’s archaic wine laws have long been a target of industry and politicians. Premier Christy Clark, former premier Gordon Campbell and B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix have all campaigned for the federal change.

In May 2011, broadcaster Terry David Mulligan took up the cause. He notified police and liquor control officials before carrying a case each of B.C. and Ontario wine in the trunk of his car from Penticton into Alberta, hoping to be charged under the 1928 law.

Beer carts don’t need ICBC

The B.C. government has changed regulations that required golf course beverage carts to be covered by an ICBC insurance policy.

“Carrying double coverage for liability wasn’t enhancing safety for golf course members and guests,” said Douglas Ferne of the National Golf Course Owners Association. “In fact, it was just creating more work and cost for golf courses, with no real benefits.”

The change also relieves miniature cars such as those used in parades, as well as industrial utility vehicles that are only driven briefly to cross roads or get to a worksite. The new regulations require owners to have private third-party liability insurance.

In 2011 the B.C. government created similar exemptions for golf carts and mobile equipment such as personal lifts and powered wheelbarrows.