What you need to know.

Guide To Ensuring Legal Alcohol Sales

Download the Guide To Ensuring Legal Alcohol Sales (pdf)



The BNCCC would like to partner with Bloomington-Normal alcohol licensees to decrease both illegal sales of alcohol to minors and liability for your establishment and employees. The information contained in this brochure is provided to help you better understand the consequences of selling alcohol to those under the age of 21 and to provide you with tips to reduce consequences.


As an alcohol licensee, you are aware of the potential penalties for selling to underage youth. You may also have been informed that compliance checks will occur at various times throughout the year without notice.

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


During the compliance check, a police officer usually waits outside the establishment while a person under the age of 21 attempts to purchase alcohol. No attempt is made to trick the clerk. The buyers look underage and carry their real IDs. If an employee of your 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.


We know you have a business to run and that you want to run it in a responsible manner.

Managers and employees of establishments that sell alcohol have a lot to gain from using proven techniques when serving or selling alcohol. Good training can reduce the number of problems that occur at your establishment and in your neighborhood. Businesses can also see improvements in their bottom line as they exert greater control over how alcohol is sold and served.

Our goal is to encourage managers and employees to learn how to be safe without reducing profit. The Heartland BASSET , formerly Safety Training to Encourage Profitable Service (STEPS) program, offered through Heartland Community College trains sellers/servers of alcoholic beverages to serve responsibly and stay within the law. The training serves as a preventive measure to discourage over-consumption and keep drunk drivers off the roads.

You’ll learn:

  • Physical effects of alcohol on the body
  • Prevention techniques and intervention for difficult customers
  • How to properly check ID cards & driver’s licenses
  • State and local laws regarding alcohol service
  • Ways to reduce your liability

Support ideas.

When there is a need to refuse a sale, it is important to recognize the challenges clerks face. They are often put in the awkward position of having to turn down a peer, a neighbor, or an upset intoxicated individual. In these cases, it is helpful for them to have a clear understanding of what can happen to them if they do sell to someone underage. Here is where the STEPS program, this brochure, and knowledge of your policy are helpful. Additionally, we suggest offering language clerks can use.

Here are some examples:

  • I would lose my job if I sold you alcohol.
  • I can’t sell to you; my manager is very strict.
  • I’m sorry, I can’t sell to you.
  • I can’t, I’m on video.
  • Come back on your birthday.
  • Sorry, we could lose our liquor license.
  • A valid ID is required for the purchase of alcohol. It’s the LAW!
  • We card 100% of the time (if this is your store policy).
  • If you look 35 and under we ID each and every time (if this is your store policy).

Best practices.

Here is a list of things you can do to reduce illegal sales and improve safety at your establishment:

  • Provide good lighting both inside and outside your establishment.
  • Install cameras.
  • Provide a written copy of your policies to every employee and have them sign-off upon reading it.
  • Ensure appropriate management training.
  • Require all employees attend BASSET training. Place special emphasis on having management personnel attend.
  • Develop good relations with your local police department and have the phone number readily available should it be needed.
  • Have a list of taxi services available for use.
  • Make sure employees follow store policies. For example: Employees need to card everyone if your policy states you card everyone.


Locally there are four enforcement bodies that conduct compliance checks on a regular basis: Normal Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, McLean County Sheriff’s Department and the State of Illinois Police. The type of ticket and amount of the associated fines are determined by the enforcement body conducting the check.

Here are the fines a clerk can expect if they make a sale of alcohol to someone under the age of 21:

  • Bloomington Police Department issues an ordinance violation. Cost to the clerk: $250
  • Normal Police Department issues an ordinance violation. Cost to the clerk: $100
  • McLean County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police Department issue a criminal charge of Sale of Alcohol to a Minor. At the time of the offense, the clerk is given a $1,000 Personal Recognizance bond and ordered to appear in court.

Cost to the establishment (regardless of enforcement body issuing citation):

  • Fines starting at $250, additional penalties as seen fit, and possible license suspension or removal.