A bill requiring permits to buy alcoholic beverages mandates all persons of legal age to obtain annual permits.  The bill exempts visitors with a tourist visa from a permit requirement, but citizens and residents will be required to obtain an alcohol buying permit.

The proposal was introduced last year in February and exempted persons above 50 years of age from obtaining a permit in the first version.

The bill was reported this month by the House Committee on Judiciary, Governmental Affairs, and Human Rights to which it was assigned.  In their report, the committee said, based on responses received, they amended the bill to apply to “all citizens and residents of Palau that are not minors.”

One of the bill’s findings states that although alcohol consumption is regulated with criminal provisions, it continues to be linked to “numerous incidents involving property damage, injury to persons and even deaths in the Republic.”

The bill expands the definition of alcoholic beverage to include all drinks that contain one-half of one percent (.05%) or more alcohol by volume. Alcohol per volume is further reduced from a minimum of 3% from the last version of the bill to .05%.

The permit is for one year, renewable, and costs $60 per permit.  The permit can be suspended or revoked by order of the court if the permit holder is convicted of a criminal offense involving the use of alcohol or hospitalized due to impairment from alcohol.

Businesses caught selling to unpermitted individuals will be penalized as well, be ordered to discontinue the sale of alcohol, and fined $300 for each violation.

The allocation of the 60-dollar fee is as follows;  25% going to law enforcement, 25% to the Hospital Trust Fund, 25% to Road Maintenance Funds, and 25% to the Ministry of Finance under the Alcohol Permit Fund.  According to the committee report, “the amount of these funds, and when distribution of these funds could begin is unknown.”

The proposed bill will go through the third and final reading in the House before passing to Senate for deliberation.

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