Underage Youth Assisting with Alcohol Law Compliance

Underage Youth Assisting with Alcohol Law Compliance

Underage Youth Assisting with Alcohol Law ComplianceThe activity of selling to minors is one that happens in many communities and ours is not the exception. One of the most effective methods to reduce sales to minors is compliance checks.

What is a Compliance Check?

A compliance check is an enforcement based tool that is used to identify establishments that sell to underage youth. It is used for two purposes. First, it is used to enforce criminal statutes, local administrative ordinances, or both. Second, it is used to identify, warn, and educate alcohol establishments that serve or sell alcohol to minors.

How is a Compliance Check implemented?

Alcohol licensees are made aware of the potential penalties for selling to underage youth and informed that compliance checks will occur at various times throughout the year without notice. During the compliance check, a police officer waits outside the establishment that sells alcohol and sends a person under the age of 21 in to attempt to purchase alcohol. No attempt is made to trick the clerk. The buyers look underage and carry their real IDs. If the alcohol establishment sells alcohol to the underage purchaser, the enforcement agent issues a citation to the seller/server or the establishment. In both Bloomington and Normal it is the seller/server that receives the citation and a report about the establishment is then sent to the respective Liquor Commission. The Liquor Commission may issue fines, additional penalties, or, at the extreme, remove the liquor license from the establishment.

Why are Compliance Checks important?

Studies show that communities that have little or no enforcement have increased sales of alcohol to those under 21. These same communities that begin to implement regular compliance checks have shown marked reductions in violations. Compliance checks are the most effective method for enforcing age-of-sale laws and decreasing commercial availability of alcohol to youth.

An important impact of the compliance check is that licensees often begin to “police” themselves. Obviously, alcohol licensees and their employees do not want to be caught selling alcohol to underage persons. Both can be held accountable for illegal sales to youth. In this regard, compliance checks encourage alcohol licensees to adequately train, supervise, and support their employees.

Compliance checks also provide a couple of opportunities for community participation and support. As mentioned, a compliance check requires an under 21 year old purchaser and this could be almost any willing youthful member of the community. Community members can also help report incidents they witness when individuals are not properly carded and encourage enforcement to complete a compliance check.

Who conducts compliance checks locally?

Locally there are three enforcement bodies that conduct compliance checks on a regular basis: Normal Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, and McLean County Sheriff’s Department. Grant funding managed by Chestnut Health Systems and Project Oz is funneled through Heartland Coalition and the BNCCC to assist in supporting the efforts of the Bloomington and Normal Police Departments.

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