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Keeping you safe: A closer look at liquor regulations for bars and restaurants

FARMINGTON – A tragic incident in Hartford that took the life of an 18-year-old CCSU student is putting a focus on underage drinking and enforcement at bars statewide.

Local and state liquor laws are in place to make sure establishments are keeping patrons safe.

“Our top priority at the Department of Consumer Protection is protect public health and safety,” Commissioner Jonathan Harris said. “Our job is to advance that by preventing service of alcohol liquor to underage patrons, minors, and to prevent people that are intoxicated actually from beings served.”

The Department of Consumer Protection issues over 200,000 licenses, registrations and permits, each year, which includes liquor licenses. Harris said it’s an in-depth process to get a permit and it is strictly enforced.

According to Harris, all the backers of an establishment must be disclosed and get background checks which includes providing financial statements. A permitee must also have its name on a placard at the restaurant entrance. If there is any violation of the law, the Department of Consumer Protection will take action.

“Our goal is compliance, to make sure you understand the law and it doesn’t happen again,” Harris said. “If there’s a pattern of conduct and there are multiple violations in particular ones that are not just minor then we’ll take action, you’ll get fined, you can lose your license temporarily, be suspended, there are places at times that have been shut down permanently.”

Establishments must not only comply with state laws but laws that are put in place in specific municipalities.

“There’s another permit called a cafe permit which requires service of some food but it’s not a full blown restaurant,” Harris said. “There are towns, for instance West Hartford, that don’t allow cafe permits.”

FOX61 stopped by a fairly new Farmington bar, 4 Eat&Drink, which went through the permitting process not too long ago to see what it entails.

“We have a cafe license so you have to be 21 years or older to come in unless you’re with a legal guardian,” General Manager Christina Pare said. “We’re very strict on carding, if you look under anything pretty much under 35, I will card you.”

Pare said these efforts are especially important to assure their permit stays in place and can be renewed each year.

“If we don’t follow the rules we can be shut down very easily, which we don’t to happen so everybody is really doing their due diligence to make sure everyone is of age to come in here,” she said.

The Department of Consumer Protection also has a Liquor Control Division which enforces the Liquor Control Act. Agents meet several times a week and provide training to local and state police officers about the Liquor Control Act.

If you want to verify a Liquor Permit: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=4308&q=508012