USING A MINOR TO PROMOTE THE SALE OF ALCOHOL
Las Vegas is known as the “city of sin” where you can get or do almost anything you want. However, despite Nevada’s reputation, the legal drinking age is still federally controlled. Consequently, bars, saloons, and other establishments whose purpose is specifically for drinking alcoholic beverages are age restricted to persons over 21. Since drinking is prohibited for anyone under 21, there are laws further prohibiting allowing minors to be used to promote the sale of alcohol.
What is the legal definition of Using a Minor to Promote the Sale of Alcohol?
Using a Minor to promote the sale of alcohol is governed by NRS 202.015, and 202.057.
NRS 202.015 – “Alcoholic beverage” defined.
For the purposes of NRS 202.015 to 202.065, inclusive, “alcoholic beverage” means:
- Beer, ale, porter, stout and other similar fermented beverages, including sake and similar products, of any name or description containing one-half of 1 percent or more alcohol by volume, brewed or produced from malt, wholly or in part, or from any substitute therefor;
- Any beverage obtained by the fermentation o the natural content of fruits or other agricultural products containing sugar, of not less than one-half of 1 percent of alcohol by volume;
- Any distilled spirits commonly referred to as ethyl alcohol, ethanol or spirits of wine in any form, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever process produced.
NRS 202.057 – Using person who is less than 18 years of age to distribute material that includes offer for alcoholic beverages.
- Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, it is unlawful for a person to employ, allow or use a person who is less than 18 years of age to distribute promotional materials that include an offer for alcoholic beverages for a business, including, without limitation, a gaming establishment, a saloon, a resort or a restaurant.
- This section does not prohibit the employment of a person who is less than 18 years of age to distribute a publication that includes an advertisement for the sale of alcoholic beverages which is incident to the publication.
- A person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of a misdemeanor.
I thought that “minor” was under 21 in the context of alcohol? Why does this statute say under 18?
As with most rules, there is always an exception. In this case, the exception allows persons over the age of 18 to promote the sale of alcohol even though they cannot drink alcohol because they are legally an adult and the law has determined that they can make a decision regarding their employment.
If the minor isn’t drinking alcohol, or staying in a bar, why shouldn’t they be allowed to promote the sale of alcohol?
Essentially, when someone promotes the sale of an item, they are implying that they would purchase the item themselves. Clearly, therefore, using a minor to promote the sale of alcohol would be implying that the establishment allowed minors to consume alcohol.
Okay, but what about restaurants? Does everyone working in a restaurant have to be at least 18?
No. Restaurants fall into subsection 2 of NRS 202.057, which states that the statute does not prohibit employment of someone under 18 to distribute promotional materials so long as the advertisement for the sale of alcohol is not the focus of the material. In other words, restaurants can hire minors to distribute promotional materials so long as the promotional materials are not solely about the sale of alcohol.
Please Note: In a similar fashion, restaurants can hire minors to work in positions that are not about the sale of alcohol, such as busser, dishwasher, host, delivery driver, or take-out.
What are the possible penalties?
A conviction for violating NRS 202.057 is a misdemeanor. Anyone convicted will be facing:
- Up to 6 months in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $1,000.
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:
- Honest Mistake/Over 21 – Many people who look much younger than they are. Consequently, it is very possible that even though the person looks younger than 18, they are, in fact, at least 18 and therefore can legally promote the sale of alcohol. If you are able to show that you were, in fact, at least 18 years of age at the time you attempted to purchase the alcohol, the charges against you will be dropped or dismissed.
- Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Using a Minor to Promote the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages?
As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.