New law allows limits on under-21 nights


STATE HOUSE – Nightclubs that fail to prevent underage drinking can be barred from having events where those under age 21 are admitted under a bill that was recently signed into law.

The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Christopher Blazejewski, Sen. Harold M. Metts and cosponsor Rep. Joy Hearn, say the legislation is meant to close down an easy avenue for minors to access alcohol at establishments with records of underage drinking problems.

“If nightclubs can’t control underage drinking, it doesn’t make sense to let them admit underage people. The licensing board needs these tools to respond to violations both as a means of enforcement and for the safety of patrons and the public, especially in light of recent violence at or near some Providence nightclubs,” said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence, East Providence).

The legislation (2011-H 5548 Aaa, 2011-S 488 Aaa), which was part of the City of Providence’s legislative package and was supported by both Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence City Council, would allow local licensing boards to ban a nightclub that has been caught serving minors on multiple occasions from admitting those who are under 21, either at certain times or at all times.

“Places that have a proven reputation for serving minors become magnets for those who are underage and want to drink. That reputation is actually a competitive advantage, bringing more people to that club to drink and spend money. Not only are they violating the law, but they’re making a profit as a direct result of that illegal activity,” said Senator Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence).

The sponsors say the legislation is meant to encourage establishments to comply with laws concerning alcohol and to directly prevent minors from accessing alcohol by shutting off an easy source.

“If we are serious about preventing underage drinking, we can’t let those who repeatedly serve minors continue to invite them into their clubs. Those establishments have already shown they are either unable or unwilling to stop them from drinking, so they shouldn’t be allowed to let them though the door,” said Representative Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Waterman, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457