WASHINGTON, November 13, 2013 — Recently, the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (“DLC”) released a report on alcohol compliance checks it had performed over the past year, with a finding that as many as 28% of establishments served alcohol to underage drinkers.
According to the DLC, four types of compliance checks are conducted:
- A compliance check involving youth under the age of 20 using their own ID, attempting to purchase alcohol at a licensed establishment;
- A compliance check involving youth under the age of 20 using their own ID, attempting to purchase alcohol through room service at a hotel or motel;
- A compliance check involving enforcement specialists in plain clothes within a facility conducting surveillance for sales to visibly intoxicated patrons; and
- A compliance check involving enforcement specialists in plain clothes within a facility conducting surveillance for illegal keg registration.
Amongst the 404 checks for service of alcohol to underage drinkers, an astonishing 113 of them failed. The 28% failure rate in compliance with alcohol laws is up from previous years. It is unclear why there is an increase in the rate at which establishments are illegally serving alcohol to underage drinkers, or why the failure rate has been growing steadily since 2010.
In a section on the DLC’s website, the agency defends the practice of monitoring and regulating alcohol sales. “Alcohol regulatory systems and its individual regulations protect public health and safety. Excessive drinking usually causes harm to the user and innocent bystanders. For this reason, alcohol, being a unique product, should be controlled. Control systems keep prices balanced, prohibits or inhibits aggressive sales practices, and allows small and large business operators to be profitable.”
The DLC quotes the Montgomery County Rules and Regulations, Article 2B, which clearly states that a establishment must not sell or serve any alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21.
In conducting these compliance checks the County also looked for sales of tobacco products to underage individuals, and found that 26% of checks failed to prevent sales of tobacco products to minors.
The report states that out of the 200 establishments examined, 71 supplied tobacco to underage agents of the DLC. Unusually, 41 of the establishments sold the products after checking for identification that clearly showed the agents age. “Fake IDs” were not used in this process.
The report warns of other major issues with the sale of alcohol in Montgomery County, stating “Although they are the primary intention, underage sales and over service are not the only violations yielded from compliance checks. On occasion offenses such as tampering, unapproved source of alcohol, lack of alcohol awareness training and other violations are identified during compliance checks.
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