By Andrea Swalec
UPPER MANHATTAN —Businesses selling fruity alcohol drinks to minors are facing stiffer fines and longer jail sentences after an Upper Manhattan-led crackdown.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who represents Washington Heights and Inwood, sponsored a New York State Senate bill which seeks to crack down on the fruity booze, known as "nutcrackers."
It was passed Monday.
"Study after study has demonstrated that alcohol and minors simply do not mix," Sen. Espaillat said in a press release.
"The dangers of alcohol consumption for minors are even worse when they are sold sugary, colorful alcoholic beverages that are easy to drink but deceptively intoxicating."
Nutcrackers combine hard liquor — often whiskey, rum and vodka — with sugary fruit juices, Kool-Aid and sometimes even candy like Jolly Ranchers.
The illicit booze is often sold from bodegas, barbershops, coolers on sidewalks and the back of vans throughout the city, Captain Jose Navarro of the 34th Precinct told DNAinfo.
The "Nutcracker Bill" closes a loophole through which businesses caught selling the sweet drinks would not lose their licenses. The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate, 60-0, and now awaits a vote in the state Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Nelson Castro of the Bronx.
"By passing this legislation, we are sending a clear signal that there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our young people," Espaillat said.