PA 01-92-sHB 5585
General Law Committee
Transportation Committee
Judiciary Committee


SUMMARY: This act specifically permits alcohol and tobacco retailers to use a transaction scan device to verify the customer's age, and it provides them with an affirmative defense if they sell alcohol or tobacco in reliance on the scan's validity. It prohibits the sale of alcohol or tobacco if the information printed on the customer's driver's license or identity card is false or fraudulent or does not match the scan results.
The act does not preclude the retailer, as a condition of the sale, from scanning other documents that have a scannable magnetic strip or bar code. But scanning these documents does not constitute an affirmative defense. A violation of the liquor laws is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in prison, or both.
The act restricts how retailers can use the scan device, restricts the information they can record, and forbids selling or distributing information derived from the scan to third parties. Violators can be subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000. The act also specifies that merchants must still comply with other applicable state and federal alcohol and tobacco laws.
The act also permits individuals to import alcoholic beverages from outside Connecticut for their own consumption without having to be present at the point of purchase, and it specifies that they will not be subject to penalties that apply to people who dispose of liquor without a permit.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2001


The act allows alcoholic liquor permittees, tobacco sellers, and their agents or employees to use a scan device to read the magnetic strip or bar code on a driver's license or Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)-issued identity card. They may not be found guilty of selling to a minor if they prove that (1) the cardholder presented a driver's license or DMV identity card in attempting to buy the liquor or tobacco, (2) their scan of the card indicated it was valid, and (3) the liquor or tobacco was sold in reasonable reliance on the identification and validity of the scan.
In determining whether a permittee, tobacco seller, or agent or employee has proven an affirmative defense, the court must consider that the use of a scan does not excuse a permittee or seller from exercising reasonable diligence to determine (1) if the customer is age 21 or older in the case of alcohol or age 18 or older in the case of tobacco and (2) whether the description and picture on the license or card are those of the cardholder.


The act forbids permittees, tobacco sellers, and their agents or employees from using a transaction scan device for any purpose other than verifying a customer's age and identity. It prohibits them from recording any information from a driver's license or identity card other than (1) the name and date of birth of the person listed on the license or card and (2) the expiration date and identification number of the license or card. The act bars permittees, tobacco sellers, and their agents or employees from selling or distributing information derived from a transaction scan to any third party for such purposes as marketing, advertising, or promotional, but allows them to release it if ordered to by a court.


Under the act, a transaction scan device is any commercial device or combination of devices used at a point of sale that can decipher in electronically readable format information encoded on the magnetic strip or bar code of a driver's license or identity card.


Sale to Minors

Individuals must be at least 21 years old to buy alcoholic liquor, beer, or wine. They may use a driver's license with a full-face photo for identification, and permittees may accept such a license as proof of age. People who misrepresent their age or offer someone else's driver's license as proof of age are subject to fines of between $200 and $500, 30 days in jail, or both.
Purchasers of tobacco products must be 18 years old. People who buy tobacco products or misrepresent their age to buy tobacco products are subject to a fine of up to $50 for a first offense and between $50 and $100 for each subsequent offense.
Permittees or their agents who sell alcohol to minors may be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced to one year in prison, or both, for each offense. Any person who sells tobacco to a minor may be fined up to $200 for the first offense, up to $350 for a second offense within an 18-month period, and up to $500 for each subsequent offense within 18 months.

Importation of Alcoholic Beverages

With certain exceptions, alcoholic beverages can be shipped or imported into Connecticut only to licensed distributors or certain federal authorities. The exceptions include individuals who, for their own consumption (1) import up to five gallons from within the territorial United States in any 60-day period or (2) import up to five gallons from outside the territorial United States in any 365-day period.
Individuals importing alcohol for their own consumption must pay all applicable taxes to the Department of Revenue Services.