An amendment that increases the legal drinking age from 16 to 18 recently went into effect (see Saturday paper), nine months after Parliament passed it in November last year. Initiator Silveria Jacobs of the National Alliance (NA) expressed dismay that it took the same length of time as creating a human child, but she was nevertheless happy the law has finally been enacted.
Mind you, the revised Penal Code of 2015 already prohibited the sale and serving of alcoholic beverages to persons under 18, but this was not yet reflected in the Permit Ordinance, making it difficult to enforce. Bars and other businesses found in violation now run the risk of losing their liquor licences too.
By the way, they have a responsibility to check by asking for valid identification. Excuses such as “They looked 18” or “We weren’t aware” simply won’t suffice, as citizens are expected to know the country’s laws and obey these once proclaimed.
On the other hand, Jacobs has a point that the measure should be accompanied by efforts to inform and educate the public accordingly. They should know that, for example, giving minors even free beers is considered a punishable offence.
This is important to realise, because some teenagers will no doubt try to get around the rule by having adults get alcoholic drinks for them. Doing so makes those involved accomplices in a crime, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison or a fine of up to 10,000 Netherlands Antilles guilders.
The Lions Club deserves credit for making this issue its campaign since 2015 with a presentation to Parliament in April. It took more than four years, but their plea was ultimately not in vain.