ELLSWORTH, Maine — Nine stores in Hancock County were caught selling liquor to minors on Saturday, according to a press release from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.
In each case, the store clerk who sold the alcohol and the retailer were cited for noncompliance of Maine’s liquor laws.
“What we’re trying to do is reduce and address the blatant disregard of the liquor laws,” said Officer Christopher Thornton of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.
Thornton said the Hancock County Alcohol Enforcement Team enlists people who are under 21 to attempt to purchase alcohol at retail stores. They go into the stores without identification and are instructed not to lie about their age if asked by the store’s clerk.
In at least one instance, a clerk sold alcohol to a minor who had revealed being under age.
In at least three instances, clerks had to override age identification software that is in place to prevent these types of sales in order to complete the transaction.
The stores cited were Lamoine General Store in Lamoine; The Pinetree Market, Otter Creek Variety, and Main Street Variety in Northeast Harbor; Rite Aid and Hulls Cove General Store in Bar Harbor; and Mike’s Country Store, Irving Circle K, and Hilltop Mobil On the Run in Ellsworth.
Thornton said the compliance checks are routine, though the last round took place about a year and a half ago.
This past weekend, the team checked 47 retail stores in total, the press release said. The other 38 stores were in compliance.
“When the people that we send in come out empty handed, that’s sort of a win for us,” said Thornton.
He added: “The bottom line is, we still have some work to do.”