Effective July 1, selling or giving alcoholic beverage to minors will become a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.
Additionally, anyone charged with selling or giving alcohol to minors can also be charged with “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor”, another fourth degree felony.
The maximum penalty for a fourth degree felony is 18 months imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. Anyone convicted of a felony can lose his or her right to vote, possess firearms and be prohibited from owning or operating liquor establishments. Lt. Charles Newman of the Tucumcari Police Department, said the new law will not change how his officers conduct their business.
“Our job doesn’t change,” said Newman. “We enforce whatever we are told to enforce.” Newman said that in situations where alcohol is given to minors, it is up to officers to decide whether the additional “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor “ charge is warranted.
“Depending on the severity of the situation, the individual officer can decide to add the additional ‘delinquency” charge,” said Newman. “The ‘Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor’ charge is not automatically assessed.” Newman said that, in any event, prosecutors can eventually amend or add to the charges at their discretion. Todd Griffin, a spokesman for Mew Mexico State police said that the only exemption to the new law is if a parent gives alcohol to their child on the parent’s home property. “A parent can give alcohol to their juvenile child at home, but not to that child’s friends or any other minors or juveniles who are not that parent’s children.,” said Griffin. “If the child leaves the property with alcohol, then the parent can be charged under the new law.” Griffin said the new law will target “adult friends” of minors. “We are going to be targeting underage parties,” said Griffin. “There are usually young adults present at those parties who are providing alcohol to the minors. Those young adults will be targeted.”
Griffin also said that store and bar employees will have to answer to the new law as well.
“We (state police) have statistics that say that three out of 10 store employees will still sell alcohol to minors after checking their ID,” said Griffin. “Those store employees will be targeted by us. It will then be up to prosecutors whether to proceed with the cases. The store employees will initially be charged with a felony if they sell alcohol to a minor.”