The Department of Liquor Control purchases, distributes, and sells distilled spirits through its agency stores; enforces Vermont’s alcohol and tobacco statutes, with a strong emphasis on limiting youth access; educates licensees; and promotes responsibility. An integral part of our mission is to control the distribution of alcoholic beverages, while providing excellent customer service and effective public safety, for the general good of the state.
Schedule of Fines
Starting January 1, 2009 certain violations will result in a fine for the business. Businesses will be given a ticket which they must send to the Department of Liquor Control within 10 days.
Use of this Alcohol Seller Awareness Program booklet
This Alcohol Seller Awareness Program book is intended to be used as part of a whole training packet. Along with reading this booklet an employee must watch the Vermont Department of Liquor Control Video and take the Vermont Department of Liquor Control test. These materials are available by contacting the Vermont Department of Liquor Control at (802)828-2339 or by visiting our website at www.liquorcontrol.vermont.gov.
We encourage you to discuss this booklet with your manager/boss.
The Vermont Department of Liquor Control (DLC) is a department whose main job is to enforce alcohol and tobacco laws in Vermont. The Liquor Control Board consists of three persons who are appointed by the Governor.
The Department of Liquor Control is the state agency that enforces Alcohol and Tobacco Laws in Vermont.
People who sell alcohol and tobacco products need to know what the alcohol and tobacco laws and regulations are. Product categories covered during training sessions include malt beverages, vinous beverages, and spirituous liquors.
These are defined as follows:
The purpose of educational programs is to provide training to the alcohol and tobacco seller about Vermont's alcohol and tobacco laws and regulations. People who understand these laws will have fewer problems while working. We feel that education is important and the legislature agreed when they passed a law requiring training.
Education Regulation #3 applies to licensed sellers of alcohol or tobacco products. The law requires that:
Liquor license applicants must be trained by a Liquor Control Investigator prior to the license being issued, and;
Every employee of the licensee who sells alcohol or tobacco products,
If all employees are not trained the store will lose it’s liquor license and/or tobacco license for one day.
Every employee who sells alcohol or tobacco products must be trained prior to making a sale and once every two years after that.
In order to make sure everyone knows the laws, the Department of Liquor Control provides stores with this Alcohol Sellers Awareness Program book so all employees can be trained. The Department encourages those people who have liquor licenses to properly train their employees so that people will sell alcohol and tobacco responsibly.
The Liquor Control Board and the Vermont Department of Liquor Control think that education is important, especially for sellers, and that is why the law requires training.
Responsible sellers need to make sure there are no violations of regulations or laws, and if there are problems they must correct them quickly.
The Vermont Department of Liquor Control also offers seminars conducted by a member of the department. Anyone is welcome to attend these classes. To find out when there is one in your area please go to our web page at http://www.liquorcontrol.vermont.gov
Alcohol Use and Abuse
It is important that a seller of alcohol understands his or her responsibilities and the reasons why you need to control who you can sell alcohol to and who you can’t.
There is a relationship between alcohol use and criminal behavior and other social problems. That is because the use of alcohol causes people to do things they might not normally do. This doesn’t mean that every time a person drinks they will commit a crime. It also doesn’t mean that the alcohol forces a person to do wrong things. When a person drinks it affects the brain and prevents them from making proper choices. The consequences of alcohol's misuse can also have an impact on the seller of alcohol. Any time a law is broken it can cause many different problems. A seller may face a penalty for improper sales as well as putting the liquor license in jeopardy.
Liquor Liability: The Dram Shop Act
Sellers of alcohol may be held civilly responsible for improperly selling alcohol.
The so-called “Dram Shop Law” allows certain people who are injured to get money damages from the person who sold the alcohol.
Vermont has said that the seller of alcohol can be held civilly responsible if they were to:
2. Sell alcohol to a customer who is already under the influence of alcohol
3. Sell alcohol after the legal selling hours of 6:00 a.m. to midnight.
It is helpful to know and follow the liquor laws so you can avoid these types of problems. It may be a good idea for cashiers to keep a personal log of any unusual things that happen. If something unusual happens when you are working you should write down what happened into a notebook for you to keep. The notes should include the name and/or description of the customer and a brief write-up of what happened. Dram shop lawsuits can be filed up to two years from the date of the problem. Because most people can’t remember what they did two years ago, it is best to write down the information to help refresh your memory later. It is important for a seller to keep his or her own log, so if you move onto another job later you can take it with you. The store is also encouraged to keep a log book.
Intoxication: The Effects of Alcohol on the Human Body
As previously stated, it is important that a seller understand how alcohol works on the human body. Remember, alcohol is a drug and it can have very different effects on different people.
When a person drinks alcohol it goes into their stomach and small intestines where it then goes into a person’s bloodstream. After alcohol gets into the blood it goes throughout the rest of their body. A person’s brain uses a lot of blood; because of this a lot of the alcohol ends up affecting the brain. Alcohol, in a way, puts certain parts of the brain to sleep. Which parts of the brain it puts to sleep depends on how much alcohol the person drinks. The more alcohol a person drinks, the more of the brain that goes to sleep.
The first part of the brain that alcohol affects is the higher learning center. This is the part of the brain that controls judgment and reasoning. As more alcohol is consumed, the next part of the brain affected is the part that controls muscles.
This is the part that causes people to have problems walking, standing, and talking. If a person consumes more alcohol their vital functions could be affected. If the vital functions are affected, the person’s heart and lungs will stop working and the person could die.
Women have more water in their bodies than men. If a woman and a man were to drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman might appear more intoxicated because of the amount of water in their body. The water doesn’t allow the alcohol to be broken down as quickly.
As you can see, alcohol affects each person differently. For the average person it takes about one hour for alcohol to leave their system. If a person drinks more than one drink in an hour the alcohol backs up in their system and begins to affect their brain.
Many people think that they are better off drinking beer than hard liquor. This is a very common myth but the truth is that a drink is a drink is a drink. One 12-ounce domestic beer, one 8-ounce microbrew, one 5-ounce glass of wine, and 1 ounce of 80 proof liquor all contain about ½ ounce of ethyl alcohol. A person’s body can only get rid of ½ ounce of ethyl alcohol in an hour, on average.
Certain individuals may have a higher tolerance for alcohol due to long-term use. People with a high tolerance will not show signs of intoxication as quickly as people who rarely drink. Sellers should be aware that alcohol affects everyone differently and should take that into account when you are deciding whether or not to sell alcohol to a customer.
Some signs of intoxication may included slurred speech, watery eyes, and staggering. One method for determining whether or not the seller should provide alcohol to a customer is the “SIR Program”. “SIR” stands for:
“S” – “Size them Up” The first thing you are going to do is to Size them up. You are going to determine if the customer is intoxicated or if they are too young.
“I” – “Interview Them” The next step you are going to take is to Interview them. This means you are going to talk to them so you can see if they are slurring their speech or are having a hard time making decisions.
“R” – “Rate Them” The last step is to rate them. This means you are going to figure out if you are going to sell to them or not. Remember, they may have been drinking before they came into your store. It doesn’t matter what time it is; a customer could be drinking at any time of the day.
You may come across a person who has been drinking alcohol and is showing signs that they have been drinking. They may have slurred speech, watery eyes, staggering, and swaying. If a person is showing any of those signs you can not sell to them.
Intoxication: General Regulation #18
You need to remember to Size up the customer, Interview the customer, and Rate the customer to decide if you are going to sell them alcohol or not. Again, if you determine that a person is intoxicated you cannot sell them alcohol. The regulation that says this is General Regulation #18.
As the regulation states, if a person seems like they are intoxicated, whether you know they’ve been drinking or not, you cannot sell to them. In other words, when you can hear and see that the customer appears to have been drinking you must not sell alcoholic beverages to them. You also can’t allow them to stay on the premises if they show signs of intoxication. Some signs of intoxication may be things like slurred speech, staggering, swaying, glassy eyes, confused look, acting confused, delayed reactions, and many others. See if you can make a list of at least 5 signs of intoxication.
Intervention Techniques: How you can refuse sale
When a seller believes that someone is showing signs of intoxication they must take action. Most sellers who have worked in stores for a long time will tell you that this is one of the hardest parts of their jobs. Even though this may be true, there are ways to make it less difficult.
There are ways of dealing with customers that do not work at all. One thing that won’t work is to walk up to a customer and tell them that they are drunk and that they have to leave. An intoxicated person may feel that you are judging them and may become upset. Always try to remain professional and in control. You always need to try to do things without threatening or judging people. You have to have a proper attitude. It sometimes helps to explain that it isn’t your decision that they leave but it is the law or the policy of your boss.
Sizing up the person you have to refuse is very important. Use the "SIR" method. Size up the person. Interview them to figure out whether they are exhibiting signs of alcohol's impairment and Rate them. This does not mean that you have to directly question them about how much they have had to drink. It means that you have to talk to the person to find out if they show signs of intoxication.
Once you have decided that the person appears intoxicated you can not sell alcohol to that person. This is where you would use the MAAM method.
“M” – move the alcohol. Take the alcohol off the counter and out of the person’s reach. This really does two things. First of all, it shows the person that you are not going to sell to them. It also takes the alcohol out of their reach so that it doesn’t become something that they can either steal or throw at you.
“A” – assert the law. Let them know that the State Law does not allow you to sell alcohol to them. Remember, it is state law, not your personal rule and not your fault.
“A” – all about the attitude. Remember to keep a good Attitude. You must stay cool, calm, and professional.
“M” – move on to the next customer. Show them that you really are serious and that you aren’t going to deal with them anymore.
If a customer starts yelling at you or physically hitting things you should request additional help. You could ask for help from another employee, a manger, or if you need to call the police.
If the customer tries to steal the product and run you should follow the STOP method.
“S” – stay in the store. Never chase someone out into the parking lot. You could end up getting hurt and it really isn’t worth it.
“T” – temper control. It is important for you to remain as calm as possible.
“O” – observe the person. Always observe the person to see where they are going, and in order to tell this information to the police.
“P” – post the incident. And don’t forget to post the incident in your logbook. You should always keep track of strange events that happen in your logbook just in case you need the information later.
People who have sold alcohol for a long time will tell you that you should expect the unexpected. You never know what could happen when you try to speak with an intoxicated person. If there is someone else in the store you should tell them that you are going to speak with an individual that you think is intoxicated so they will be there to assist you if you need it. It sometimes is easier for someone else to speak with the person.
Can you think of any ways to refuse sale to someone?
Talk with your boss about the policies of the store. Does your boss want you to call the police if someone starts yelling and fighting with you? If the person becomes physical or tries breaking things it may be wise to call the police and have them issue a notice of trespass, which will keep them from coming back to the store. Again, this is something you should talk about with your boss.
Always remember, it may be hard to tell a customer that they can’t buy alcohol in your store, but it is still the law. If you do sell to a customer that is intoxicated the establishment could be closed down and you possibly could be sued. This is why it is important that you properly screen customers when they come into the store. You are responsible for your customers, so if you sell to them you have taken on responsibility for them.
Minors: The Drinking Age
The drinking age in the State of Vermont is 21 years old. You have to be 21 to buy, drink or have alcohol. However you can be 16 and sell alcohol in a store.
Vermont law says that people under 21 cannot buy, drink, or have alcohol. The law that says this is Title 7 VSA § 656, it says:
A minor ages 16-20 shall not:
A minor 16-20 shall not possess alcohol. They cannot have alcohol in their possession (unless it is while working at a store and then they can only have the alcohol in order to sell it)
A minor 16-20 shall not drink alcohol.
If a person does purchase, attempt to purchase alcohol from you , possess, or consume alcohol, they will have to complete a Teen Alcohol Safety Program (TASP), If they fail to complete the TASP they must pay a $300 penalty and have their driver’s license suspended for ninety days.
If an underage person tries to buy alcohol from you don’t hesitate to call the police. After all, they are trying to get you in trouble by purchasing alcohol from you.
Beyond the first offense, or if the person is under 16 and they
Falsify their age in order to get alcohol,
Possess alcohol (unless working at a store and then they can only have the alcohol in order to sell it)
Purchase alcohol/or attempt to purchase alcohol
(4) Or they drink alcohol
They will have to pay a fine of up to $600.00 and may spend up to 30 days in jail.
It is the responsibility of the seller to ensure that the customer is over the age of twenty-one before they sell alcohol to that person. If you sell or give alcohol to a minor you can face a criminal penalty under Title 7 Vermont Statutes Annotated Section 658.
As you can see by the law, there is a penalty for the minor who purchases, possesses, or consumes alcohol. There is also a penalty for the person who sells or furnishes the alcohol to the minor. The penalty for the seller, or furnisher is even more expensive. If you sell alcohol to a minor you personally may be charged with a criminal offense. The law states:
Title 7 V.S.A. Section 658 states:
No one can sell or give alcohol to a person under 21 and no one can allow a person under 21 to drink alcohol.
The penalty for selling to a minor or enabling consumption by a minor is a fine of up to $2000 and up to 2 years in jail, or both.
In addition, if a person sells or provides alcohol to a minor or allows a minor to consume alcohol, and that minor, as a result of consuming the alcohol, causes death or serious bodily injury to anyone while operating a motor vehicle, the penalty becomes a felony with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 5 years in jail.
The only exception to the above law applies to sellers who furnish alcohol to a minor during the course of a compliance check performed by law enforcement. The penalty for a first offense is a $100 fine; the penalty for subsequent offenses can be as high as $500.
A seller must be sure that the person is at least 21 years old before you sell them alcohol. If you sell alcohol to a person under the age of 21 you can be charged criminally.
Along with the law that says you personally can’t sell to a person less than 21 years of age there is also a Liquor General Regulation that says you can’t sell to minors. That regulation is General Regulation #13 and it says:
General Regulation #13: No alcohol shall be sold or furnished to a person under the age of 21.
You may personally get a penalty but also the liquor license may be fined, suspended or revoked by the Vermont Liquor Control Board.
Don’t forget that it is your responsibility to make sure you aren’t selling to minors
How to Identify a Minor
As mentioned before, it is important that a seller of alcohol make sure they only sell to customers that legally can purchase/consume alcohol. The seller must be watching customers to figure out if a customer is old enough. If there is any question in your mind you need to ask for ID. Actually, Regulation #14 says that if someone is of questionable age you must ask for an ID.
As a seller, you have to remember that people who are under 21 will try to make themselves look older than they really are. A lot of times women will wear makeup to make themselves look older. A person under 21 will also try to act older. They may seem overly confident and may argue with you about their age. The person could also try to act invisible or kind of hide so they don’t look obvious. Usually by doing this they look more obvious. The important thing is to watch for any action that seems out of the ordinary. Remember, when a person is under 21 getting alcohol is a big deal. Once the person turns 21 buying alcohol is not a big thing anymore.
Can you think of other signs that you can tell a person is a minor?
Identification Cards - Proof of Age
It usually comes down to ID cards. The question that sellers usually ask is: “What IDs can I accept and which ones are not acceptable?” After all, if you answer that question wrong, your job, a criminal penalty, fine, suspension, or revocation of the liquor license are all on line.
The only ID cards that are acceptable in Vermont are a valid picture driver’s license or non-driver identification card from Vermont or any other state or Foreign Country. You may accept a valid Passport, or valid United States Military Identification card. Other forms of identification cannot be accepted to establish proof of age. A violation of this regulation may result in criminal charges and/or suspension or revocation of the liquor license
Buying alcohol is a privilege, not a right. You, the seller, decide whether or not a person can purchase alcohol. Again, if you have any doubt that a customer may be under 21, do not sell to them. If the ID card does not look valid, or you are not comfortable accepting it, YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE SALE.
Some steps that are helpful when
Ask the person to take the ID out of their wallet/purse so you can handle it.
Look at the ID for signs that it may have been changed. Do not accept any ID that has peeling lamination or curled edges.
3. Check the photograph to make sure that the person presenting the ID matches the picture. Keep in mind that some people may change features of their appearance, such as hair color or facial hair, but more permanent features such as bone structure of the chin, cheeks, and ears seldom change.
Check the ID’s expiration date to make sure that it is still valid. If the ID is not valid, it cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco. Often minors will use their older sibling’s expired license to attempt to purchase alcohol or tobacco products. Check the date of birth on the ID to make sure the customer is over twenty-one. Many times sellers accept IDs of customers who are under twenty-one because they don’t take the time to read the ID.
After you have the ID in your possession the following suggestions may be helpful.
*Ask the person how old they are, and compare that to the information on their ID.
Watch for facial expressions and eye movements that may indicate that the person is not being honest. You also can call our ID hotline if you think you are looking at a fake ID.
All Current Vermont IDs are color coded. A green color strip means the person is over 21. A purple strip means the person is 18, 19, or 20. An Orange strip means the person is under 18. If you are selling tobacco you simply need to look at the color of the ID. If it is orange you can’t sell. Vermont IDs issued after 2003 are vertical if the person is under 21. They contain the date when the person will be turning 18 and 21.
Under General Regulation #37 it is the duty of sellers to be aware and in control of customer conduct. Disturbances, brawls, fighting or illegal activity on a licensed premise, or outside the licensed premises is not permitted. Sellers are responsible for controlling situations as they occur. Don’t be afraid to call the police for extra help. Sellers can often stop a problem before it starts by being aware of their surroundings.
A keg is defined as a container that holds more than 5 gallons of malt beverage.
1. A store to make sure there is a keg tag attached to a keg before it is sold. (The tag should be attached when the keg is delivered from the wholesale dealer)
2. A customer purchasing a keg is required to present a valid ID for keg purchases.
3. A seller must complete a keg registration form, which can be obtained from the Vermont Department of Liquor Control. This form includes a space for the keg tag number, customer’s name, address, date of birth, and the ID number exactly as it is written on their ID. The seller must keep this form for at least 90 days after the keg is returned.
4. A store must collect a deposit of at least $25.00 for each keg sold. The money must be returned to the customer if they return the keg within 60 days, and the keg tag is still attached.
Removing a keg tag is illegal, violators could face a penalty of up to two years in jail and a fine up to $1,000.00 or both.
Age of Seller
General Regulation # 16 states that a person must be at least 16 to sell alcohol or tobacco in a store.
Drinking on Duty/Drinking in the store
It is important to remember that drinking on duty is illegal. General Regulation #17 states: “No licensee or their employees shall consume or display the effects of alcohol or any illegal substance while in the performance of their duties.”
Pricing of Alcohol
General Regulation #29 prohibits stores from selling alcohol for less than they paid for it.
Smoking in Stores
Smoking is prohibited inside all licensed establishments
General Regulation #9 prohibits illegal gambling on any licensed establishments. A store may sell lottery tickets as long as they are licensed to do so by the Vermont State Lottery Commission.
Display of Licenses
General Regulation #12 states that all licenses issued to an establishment, including the tobacco license and liquor license must be displayed where they can be seen by the public.
Delivery of Alcohol
General Regulation #50 prohibits a seller from making deliveries of alcohol.
Cooperation with Law Enforcement
General Regulations #8 and #8a require that sellers of alcohol cooperate with Liquor Control Investigators as well as other Vermont law enforcement officers.
Alcohol on the Premises
All alcohol that is on the licensed premises must have been purchased on invoice from a wholesale dealer or an in or out of state winery that is licensed to direct ship to retailers. That alcohol is for consumption OFF the licensed premises.
A licensee CANNOT accept anything of value from a wholesale dealer. (No free product, signs, point of sale advertisements etc.)
Tobacco Hours of Sale:
An establishment may sell tobacco during all hours of operation.
The State of Vermont also has other tobacco laws; they are:
Matches, lighters, and rolling papers are not considered to be tobacco products and can be sold to anyone. However a store can make a policy that they won’t sell these types of products to anyone under 18 if they wish. Be aware that there are products called “blunt wrappers” that do contain tobacco leaves so these cannot be sold to anyone under 18 years of age.
Wine/Malt Beverage Tastings
As of 2008 a second class establishment (store) is allowed to host wine or malt beverage tasting events within certain guidelines. A tasting application permit is available on our website under the licensing section. The website address is: www.liquorcontrol.vermont.gov
Wine/Malt Beverage Tasting Procedures
A second class establishment may host a wine or malt beverage tasting no more than 30 times in a year. An application must be made to the Department of Liquor Control 15 days in advance of the tasting. The application must include a $15.00 application fee.
A wine/malt tasting permit will allow a second class establishment to dispense wine or malt beverages to legal age customers under the following guidelines.
A store can hold their own tastings up to 30 times in a year after applying for a permit from the Department of Liquor Control 15 days in advance of the tasting
The Department of Liquor Control conducts compliance checks of establishments that are licensed to sell alcohol and tobacco products. In these compliance checks, an individual under 21 (for alcohol) or under 18 (for tobacco) will attempt to buy alcohol or tobacco products. The minors working with DLC will not lie, however other minors may. Because of this you should always be asking for IDs and not just asking the customer’s age.
Tips to Assist Sellers
Be familiar with current liquor laws and regulations.
Maintain a logbook for incidents that occur while selling alcohol, this log can track such things as name and description of patrons, or a brief description of an incident.
There are other various regulations that you need to know if you are selling alcohol and/or tobacco in a store. This book does not list all the laws and regulations. It is only meant to be a general guide for sellers.
If you have further questions speak to your boss or the liquor investigator in your area. You can also look up Title 7 in the Vermont Statutes. The Statutes are available online at the Vermont Department of Liquor Control website at www.liquorcontrol.vermont.gov. They are also available at most public libraries and town clerks offices.
Record Keeping Responsibilities
Now that you have watched the Department of Liquor Control DVD and have read this booklet, complete the test. Then you are required to sign a certificate stating that you have been trained in liquor laws. Your boss should have this certificate available but if they need one they can access it on our website at www.liquorcontrol.vermont.gov. Or, they can call our office and ask for one to be sent to them. This certificate must be filled out prior to you selling alcohol or tobacco.