Alcohol sales laws have little wiggle room

Published 6:56 pm Sunday, January 11, 2015

A mother whose 25-year-old son was cited for selling alcohol to minors last month during a sting by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office said she felt he should not have been issued a citation.

Gia Holmes, whose son was hired at Discount Gas on Austin Street three days before the pinch, said her son was inexperienced at working in retail stores that sell alcohol.

Store clerks are required by law to attend three-day alcohol and tobacco classes, but the clerk had yet to attend a class before he was cited.

“I think the officers should have given him just a warning,” Holmes said. “He explained to the officers that he was on the job for just three days. The officers told him he needed to go to tobacco and alcohol training classes. He had never worked for a company that sells alcohol and tobacco before. He had not been in any trouble before.”

The clerk has a Jan. 28 hearing in Franklinton. His court date is expected to be in February.

Penalties for similar offenses are a fine of up to $500 or six-months jail time or both.

Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley said the law is clear.

“The law requires a citation for the clerk,” Haley said. “Clerks are required to undergo training for alcohol and sales. The assumption is that the clerk has undergone that training. The law has no wiggle room. Typically what happens the clerks are assessed a fine of $500. Since I’ve been here, no judge has issued jail time.”

Discount Gas owner Phuoc Truong was not available for comment.

Holmes said her son was working with another employee when a long line at the counter led her son to open another register.

“They dressed up a young girl to make her look older,” Holmes said. “She was in the other line before she moved to my son’s register. Thirty minutes later, the officers cited him.”

Twelve other stores in the parish were cited during the investigation.