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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

State liquor officials will monitor campus

Plain-clothed alcohol enforcement officers will be on campus looking for underage drinkers this weekend, according to state liquor officials. "We will be bearing down, and bearing down hard," New Hampshire State Liquor Commissioner Anthony C. Maiola told The Dartmouth.

Enforcement agents, who have powers of arrest, usually target underage students involved in the purchase and transport of alcohol, according to local store manager Jack Stinson. Although Maiola said agents "would be everywhere," another enforcement official expressed doubt about whether agents could enter Greek houses, citing rights conferred under the New Hampshire state constitution.

Maiola said he decided to send agents yesterday morning after receiving three phone calls from concerned parents of College students.

"One parent told me that his daughter said there wasn't going to be any school tomorrow [Friday] because they were going to start their big party," Maiola said. "That's when I got a hold of my enforcement division."

Officers may keep an eye out for other alcohol-related violations, like the possession of open cans outdoors.

"You can't walk down the street with a beer can in your hand; it's not legal," enforcement division lieutenant Lisa Soiett said. "It's a 250 dollar minimum for the first offense."

The minimum fine for unlawful possession of alcohol is also 250 dollars the first time, with subsequent offenses carrying a 500 dollar minimum penalty. The sentence for any given offense can vary substantially, however, according to law enforcement officials.

"It's a misdemeanor, so it's all up to the judge, really," Soiett said.

Although not uniformed state police officers, liquor enforcement agents have full powers of arrest. There are currently 25 agents attached to the New Hampshire commission, according to Soiett.

The presence of the agents at an educational institution is not unprecedented.

"Dartmouth isn't the only one; we've been to Keene when they had their big shindig and the University of New Hampshire," Maiola said.

The state liquor enforcement division typically does not work in conjunction with local police or Safety and Security. According to College Proctor Robert McEwen, commission agents sometimes do not inform the College when they will be operating in and around Hanover.

"[Safety and Security] wouldn't be with be with them," McEwen said. "Our duties are very clear."

Enforcement agents reportedly investigate stores more frequently than they conduct operations against underage drinkers.

"We did a sting a few months ago in Hanover. We picked up three or four stores," Maiola said.

Fines against stores are generally more severe than those levied against individuals.

"Usually they come down extraordinarily hard on the vendors," Stinson said.

McEwen theorized that brisk sales of alcohol in the areas surrounding the College are partially responsible for the presence of enforcement agents.

"I think keg sales in the town of Hanover may be the largest in the state," McEwen said.