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Illegal alcohol sales climb in Montgomery County

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Published on: Friday, November 15, 2013

By Holden Wilen

Alcohol sales to individuals under the age of 21 in Montgomery County went up in 2012, according to the latest report from the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC).
The DLC runs a compliance check program each year in collaboration with the county police department with the goal of checking at least 400 businesses each year. During the checks, the DLC sends individuals under the age of 21 to licensed establishments and stores to attempt to purchase alcohol. If the store sells to the individual, the store receives a violation and the actual seller/server receives a criminal citation.
Despite the county’s efforts, the report for fiscal year 2013 shows out of 404 compliance checks, 113 individuals were able to purchase alcohol—a compliance rate of 72 percent. The rate is a 3 percent drop from the 75 percent compliance rate last year.
In addition to checking for alcohol compliance, the county also performs checks for underage tobacco sales. The county’s report shows a significant increase in sales to individuals younger than 18. Last year, out of 300 compliance checks, 63 individuals were able to purchase cigarettes—a rate of 79 percent. The rate fell to 65 percent this year with 71 successful purchases out of 200 attempts.

“Last year more than one quarter of our compliance checks showed that the law was being followed and that is unacceptable,” said Police Chief Thomas Manger. “More works needs to be done. Everyone who is in the business of selling or dispensing alcohol is responsible for making sure that they are not serving people under the age of 21. We will be checking.”
When a licensed establishment receives a violation, its owner or manager must appear at a hearing before the county’s Board of License Commissioners, where the board will determine the penalty. According to Chapter 6 of the board’s rules and regulations, the board may revoke the license or require the violators to take an approved alcohol awareness certification course.
“Raising compliance rates is our priority,” said DLC Division Chief Kathie Durbin. “Businesses should take advantage of the increased education and outreach efforts supported by DLC and make sure their staff is well trained before they sell or serve alcohol.”
Durbin encourages all licensees to participate in the county’s Alcohol Law Education and Regulatory Training (ALERT) program to educate staff at facilities that serve or sell alcohol about what to look for to avoid selling alcohol to those who are under the age of 21.

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