Oregon Lawmakers Ease Penalties For Inadvertent Alcohol Sales

Feb 24, 2014

Imagine for a moment you're a busy supermarket clerk, ringing up hundreds of dollars of sales per hour. A young man hands you his ID, you make a quick glance and accidently transpose two digits in the birthday. The next thing you know you're under arrest for selling alcohol to a minor. Several former grocery store clerks told lawmakers that happened to them. 

The Oregon House approved a measure that would reduce penalties in accidental alcohol sales to minors.
Credit M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons

They said they shouldn't be criminalized for a simple mistake. Oregon lawmakers agreed that if it was a mistake, the penalty should be reduced to a violation, along the lines of a speeding ticket.

Jeff Anderson is with the Oregon chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. He says even though the misdemeanor charges rarely led to actual jail time, the stigma could have long-lasting consequences.

"If you were a 20, 30 year employee at a grocery store, a first offense you get terminated. You can't be re-employed in the industry because you have a criminal record," Anderson says. 

The measure passed both chambers with wide support. Governor John Kitzhaber is expected to sign it.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network.