Montgomery County businesses made slightly more illegal alcohol sales in 2013 than in 2012, according to a recently released report from the county’s Department of Liquor Control.
According to the report, in random compliance checks that county officials made with the help of teenage volunteers, 28 percent of local restaurants and businesses sold alcohol to people younger than 21. In 2012, the rate was about 25 percent, with 102 businesses failing compliance testing from the county’s DLC.
Police and the Department of Liquor Control do about 400 checks annually in Montgomery County. There are about 1,000 places within the county that sell or serve alcohol, according to the department.
During the checks, local teens working with police go into stores or restaurants and try to buy alcohol using their real driver’s licenses, which specifically show they are too young to purchase alcohol. Underage volunteers are not allowed to have facial hair, wear excessive makeup or hats, and can’t talk on the phone while performing the check.
In a statement regarding the sales, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said that more work needs to be done and vowed to keep making compliance checks.
Kathie Durbin from the Department of Liquor Control said that raising compliance rates was a “priority,” and encouraged local businesses to take advantage of the resources from the department to make sure their staff is well-trained before they sell or serve alcohol.
The effort by the police and underage volunteers is not the only such program in Montgomery County. In late September, the Responsible Retailing Forum began a “mystery shopper” initiative, visiting different stores with shoppers who were young enough that the cashiers or servers would need to do an ID check.
According to Durbin, at the time of a sale, servers or clerks who correctly checked IDs were given a green card and rewarded with $100, while the manager on duty received a red card if one of their employees failed to check an ID.
According to Durbin, the results of the mystery shopper program is expected in early December. Although results were not yet out, she said it was looking promising, explaining that they had received an enthusiastic response from the participating businesses and that after receiving the initial results from the initiative, many of the shops were doing a better job of carding the mystery shoppers.
“It was exciting to hear that businesses are stepping up and people at the point of service and sales are carding and identifying the mystery shoppers,” she said.